Study Abroad in Seoul
Find the Best Way to Study Korean in South Korea
In my previous article, I explained some of the opportunities available for those interested in studying Korean in South Korea, including the general kinds of programs, price range, schedules, and visa issues. This time I hope to give you a more detailed look at specific programs and the benefits and disadvantages of each.
First up, and probably the best University program for Western learners, is Sogang University in the Sinchon area. This is one of the more popular choices because the classes take an immersive, communicative approach to learning Korean. Instead of dry lectures and repeating grammar drills, there is a much heavier usage on actually using the language and improving your everyday communication ability. The downside to this is that it probably doesn't go quite as far as other Korean programs in terms of learning advanced Korean, but for those who want to focus more on conversation this is a great choice.
Next up is Yonsei University, which is the oldest Korean language program in the country. Yonsei takes a radically different approach from Sogang - it's focused more on an academic learning style, with lots of attention paid to grammar and listening to lectures. While that may not sound as exciting as Sogang, it has its advantages. First off, the kind of Korean studied at Yonsei tends to be a bit more advanced. Many enter this program with hopes of attending a Korean university someday. Secondly, if you're a Westerner, there tends to be more people from Asian countries studying here than at other Universities. Many Japanese and Chinese students come here to learn Korean, for example. If you want to get away from the temptation to speak English with your classmates, Yonsei is a great option. Note that Yonsei University also has a Critical Language Scholarship available in their Wonju campus east of Seoul.
For private institutions, one of the best known is the Seoul Korean Language academy in Gangnam. The SLA offers some benefits that University programs do not. First of all, you can have more flexible schedules compared to University programs. Sogang and Yonsei, for example, operate on three month semesters. At the KLA, you go on a monthly basis. There are also more variety in class times - you can take classes on the weekend, for example, even sign up for private tutoring at a higher cost. Second it also has a few more classes that are specialized for particular subjects, such as their TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) course.
Those are some of the most prominent institutions for studying Korean in the country, but there are a host of others that can get the job done too. In Seoul alone you have Seoul National University, Ehwa Women's University (note that the Korean language programs are open to men), and lesser known options such as Korea University and Konkuk University. For those interested in studying at Seoul National University - note that they also offer a joint program with the GNUCR in Gangnam for discount night classes. This is where I studied Korean, and they offer quality classes two nights a week for 300,000 won (270 USD) per semester.
Outside of Seoul your options are a bit more limited, but there are plenty of University programs in other cities to help you. Many of them follow the programs and textbooks of universities in the capitol. Major universities in areas such as Daegu and Busan (Pusan National University, in particular, is known to have a good program).
There are many options for studying Korean in South Korea, each with a different approach and focus. Regardless of what you choose, studying in the country is a great experience that no one interested in the culture should miss if they have the opportunity.
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