On this page there are links to various Korean learning institutes and in the future reviews of each of these schools. Let's keep the institutes organized by city and alphabetical. Here is a list of Korean Language Programs across Korea. Eventually this list will be integrated into this page.
Ewha Womens University Korean Language Program Yes, they accept men in the Korean program. The teachers here are very well trained and have produced their own book which is very communicatively focused and well founded in linguistic theory. The classes are divided into the four skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Furthermore each class recycles and builds on materials covered in the other class resulting in a strong mastery of the skills and language covered. Additionally there is a part-time program that runs three times a week in the evening and also in the early afternoon.
Seoul National University Language Education Institute Classes are five days a week, 4 hours per day. There's also an evening program with 3 hour classes twice a week. The teachers vary greatly in quality. Since there are relatively few grammar explanations per se, you have to figure it out yourself if your teacher cannot explain it well, which is not uncommon. Most of my classmates used the "Korean Grammar for International Learners" (Yonsei U. Press) for grammar explanations -- or had already learned the grammar from the Yonsei in China or Japan programs. The AM textbooks are fairly old (2000; the 2005 "editions" are mere reprints with the de minimus corrections of typos) and inadequate, especially compared to the new Yonsei textbooks (2007-10). The PM textbooks are a bit better but only go up to level 4, which is only level TWO in the AM intensive class. Furthermore, level 5 in the PM uses the AM level 3 book, and level 6 is new and often not offered, i.e., Nov. 2010 term. In short, LEI seems to get by on the enormous prestige of SNU in Korea, e.g., many Asian students hope to matriculate there and think going to LEI will help them get into SNU. SNU LEI assumes in the typical arrogant SNU way that they are already the best in Korean language, hence, they are indolent in trying to improve their pedagogy, e.g., a second-rate Korean textbook. Furthermore, since Asian students flock to SNU because of its prestige (in Korea), the SNU LEI, which is apparently more like a business enterprise, has no incentive to improve. To wit, the US army used to send their soldiers to other language schools, but recently switched to only SNU because of its perceived power and influence. The soldiers who went to DLI ([USA] Def. Lang. Instit.) complained non-stop (in private) about SNU. Also, to put it sceptically, SNU et al. seriously got into the KSL (Kn. Sec. Lang.) game many years after Yonsei because it's quite profitable, especially since SNU is a public school. Furthermore, the SNU LEI bureaucrats can be a bit overbearing as the usual epigoni of that sub-species. The SNU LEI modus operandi was exemplified when I tried to enroll in the AM class, after taking the PM class the previous semester. To wit, the SNU bureaucrats made me pay another circa 65,000 won application fee although they already had my essential application documents (i.e. passport, foreign ID card, transcript) from the previous registration; while using the LEI office computer I stated that since the other "required" AM class documents (e.g. study plan) were not needed for the PM class I didn't have them and could not apply to the AM class because their computer algorithm necessitated them; the LEI staff then proceeded to download into my application various inapposite SNU documents (e.g. dorm notices), which then allowed my application and FEE to be processed. Needless to say, this made it prima facie clear that it was a matter of the almighty won. N.B. The mature students, e.g., Ph.D.s, post-docs, and graduate students were more critical and acerbic than what I have recounted.
[http:// SISA - YBM] Clases are run five times a week for two hours per day. The text is incredibly dry and poorly designed. Additionally there is far too much focus on grammar and little on communicative ability. The teachers are not particularly well trained. A last resort for formal Korean language training.
Sogang's [alleged] focus is on communicative ability. The classes are divided into the four skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. [This is the paradigm established by Yonsei many years ago, long before Sogang, and is also followed at SNU.] N.B. I have edited the extant evaluation by placing my dissenting comments in brackets.
- After having lived in Korea off and on for several years, I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to study Korean. Students on that scholarship are supposed to study at Yonsei, but having tried Yonsei twice (see below), I practically begged to be allowed to attend Sogang instead. I so wish that I had started with Sogang in the beginning because if I had I would be a professionaly [sic] competant [sic] speaker by this point. [This is problematic. Korean is one of the world's most difficult languages; ergo, it would take several years, if not decades, to approach the level of a Korean "professional." A scholar, Prof. Anders Ericsson, demonstrated that it takes circa 10,000 hours of concerted effort with a good teacher to reach the minimum level of expertise. Hence, if you completed Yonsei, et al. you would still be roughly 8500 hours short. ] The best part of Sogang is that beginning students get so much practice communicating that they gain confidence to use it outside of the classroom. [Demurral: Logically and empirically speaking, "confidence" is not equivalent to competence or proficiency.] This is obviously crucial for beginning students. [Sogang's so-called communicative approach seems to consist of placing students at tables that seat 4, then yapping among themselves with numerous uncorrected mistakes (there's only 1 teacher for 4 tables), then rotating them to repeat the fallacy.] Having started at level 2 and taken through level 4 at Sogang, and met students who graduated from both Sogang and Yonsei's programs, I'd recommend attending Sogang until level 4 and then switching to Yonsei for the last 2 levels - especially if you are planning on attending regular Korean university classes afterwards. [Demurral: I was in level 4 at Sogang; it was a waste of time and I dropped it because I had already learned the grammar at Yonsei. It's far from true that Sogang students get more practice communicating than at Yonsei. Needless to say, it depends on the student.] The high-level Yonsei books, while dry and very much in need of updating, better prepare students in terms of academic, written Korean. [Demurral: This author is perhaps talking about the 1994 textbooks, in which case s/he would still be fallacious, whereas the new 2007-2010 books are pretty good. But the Sogang books have useless inane pictures and drawings, which are more for kids since they get a lot of teen-age students.] Conversely, level 5 and 6 Yonsei students often remarked that my spoken Korean was more fluid than theirs when I was only in Sogang's level 3. [Demurral: This is problematic. Koreans are polite people compared to, e.g., USA denizens. Did the author attend Yonsei at levels 5 & 6 AND get SIGNIFICANTLY better grades in speaking than those students who went solely to Yonsei?] It's really about what the teachers emphasize - and of the 10 Sogang teachers I had, 4 were excellent, 3 were very good, 2 were good, and 1 was only ok. [However, you only cover about circa 10% of the grammar you learn at Yonsei or SNU. For further explication of the ratiocination, see my Yonsei KLI comments.] In summary, Sogang's so-called communicative approach seems to be just public relations and advertising. It is NOT as if they built their pedagogy based on Habermas' communicative theory or Chomsky's linguistic paradigms.
Sookmyung University: Lingua Express No information yet: add your review here
Yonsei Korean Language Institute The oldest program in Korea and the best (it is a difference in kind, not just degree). They have new textbooks (2010) that are significantly better than Sogang or SNU, et al. There are three textbooks per each level (vs. two mediocre/inadequate ones at SNU et al.): main textbook, practical homework, and the reading book.
- I am finishing level 1 at Yonsei KLI. The books are not dry or boring, in my opinion, and are conversation-based. Right now, I am taking Intermediate level 1 class at Yonsei in the afternoon. I don't like the way that they teach because nothing ever seems to be emphasized. There is no homework and if there is, it is never graded so its kind of pointless. I want to switch to another program but I am an exchange student which is not possible since I am not here just to entirely learn Korean. [Demurral: To put it kindly, this preceding comment might be about the "Special Summer Course," which is for those who want to learn only a little.]
- Demurral to 1. When I took intermediate and advanced Korean levels in the AM intensive class (200 hours/10 weeks) there was a lot of homework, which was corrected for errors. Ditto, for SNU. Furthermore, Yonsei is the best Korean language pedagogy extant in that it it incorporates the standard linguistic teaching paradigms that are used for other foreign languages in the USA, e.g., German, French, Latin, Greek. That is not to say, Yonsei is perfect or even at the magna cum laude level, but at least they have improved and endeavour to continue to improve the curriculum over the the past half-century or so. Whereas, over the past couple decades Sogang's textbooks are aguendo worse than their old Francis Park textbooks. And SNU had not even made an attempt to improve their textbooks since circa 2000 (although their practice book came out in 2005. Also the Sogang teachers allow students to NOT do the workbook homework, or any other homework, unlike Yonsei or SNU where homework is mandatory. What, pray tell, is the purpose of the mediocre workbook that is not even used, unless it's merely, pro forma, to keep up with Yonsei and SNU.
- I took Yonsei 1.5 ("Special Summer Course" - 5 or 6 weeks) and level 2 in the summers of 2000 and 2002, respectively, and asked for a refund after 3 weeks in both cases. Avoid the Special Summer Course like the plague if you're a serious student - it's full of Korean-Americans who just graduated from high school and are enjoying their new-found "freedom." That said, soju and kimchi breath is not pleasant anytime, much less when you're trying to study. The person who mentioned a lack of homework probably attended the Special Summer Program.
4. The Regular Course (10 weeks) is better but the basic problem with Yonsei is pedagogy. You literally sit in a line, with the teacher asking student 1 a question. After student 1 responds, students 2 through 10 are asked the exact same question and are expected to give the same or very similar answer. It is mind-numbing to say the least. The books and teaching methodology are well-suited to the Japanese students who are able to use the grammatical patterns more quickly due to the similarities between Korean and Japanese. As I mentioned above, one of my life's great regrets is that I didn't start at Sogang in 2000 instead. Now that I've taken level 4 at Sogang, though, I'll probably go back to Yonsei for levels 5+6 because I need some of the more complex, written grammar, as well as the more formal vocabulary taught at Yonsei. And again, my friends who graduated from Sogang's program seemed to have a harder time adjusting to regular Korean University classes than students from Yonsei. Problem is, if you start at Yonsei you'll be too frustrated and bored to ever get that far. As for the teachers, I think they are very constrained in terms of teaching methods, so it's hard to judge their individual abilities. Maybe higher level classes are more communicative and interesting, but the lower level classes were some of the worst classes I've ever had.
5. I have to demur from the above comments (4.). As mentioned supra (above), Yonsei is the best Korean language pedagogy extant in that it incorporates the standard linguistic teaching paradigms that are used in N. America and western Europe, and not merely for the Japanese (putting aside the Orientalism -- in Edward Said's sense; it seems self-evident in paragraph 4.). For example, in any language class there is a repetition of grammar patterns. There is simply no other way to learn a language, especially since Korean is ranked either the world's most difficult language to learn or one of them ("category 3": Arabic, Chinese). Moreover, my Yonsei experience was quite different from the "mind-numbing" untrue caricature supra (4., above); to wit, on any given grammar pattern every student answered in a different way (not unlike variations on a theme). Any serious student can learn from the Yonsei pedagogy, it is pretty much bullet-proof, whereas Sogang just teaches some basics and lets big mouths yap about relative nonsense. For example, Yonsei has a language lab hour in the AM class, but there is NO language lab at Sogang (or SNU) built into the pedagogy; this is the standard time-honored way to learn a foreign language in N. America and western Europe. Also, bear in mind, you will be behind Yonsei or SNU students after only 1 level, let alone two levels. That is, you learn about 30 grammar patterns in 10 weeks at Sogang (e.g., level 3), whereas you will learn about 150-200 patterns (depending on how you count them) at Yonsei or SNU. If you want to truly master the language, then you should not spend more than 1 term (level 2 if you fall in love) at Sogang. One might add that the Yonsei and SNU teachers are more polite (at least the ones I had) than the Sogang teachers who tended to power-trip and yell at the students, who were mostly teen-age Asians. It's a complicated issue of status and culture, Yonsei and SNU are elite Korean schools; Sogang is not in their class. I'm told there is a pecking order for students (especially Asian) who are accepted at the respective schools. Thus, although the SNU LEI is not nearly as good as the Yonsei KLI many Asians who are good students and want to matriculate at SNU go to the LEI. Hence, the Sogang teachers (who are largely Sogang alumni) know that they are getting Asian students who would rather be at Yonsei or SNU -- ergo, perhaps this is one salient reason why the Sogang teachers are so lacking in manners (many Koreans who are not SKY [Snu, Korea u., Yonsei] grads rail against those schools). However, one might add that the SNU LEI bureaucrats are sometimes a bit much, whereas the Yonsei & Sogang office workers were pretty polite. In my case, after Yonsei and SNU, the Sogang pedagogy was so superficial and the teachers were so bad that I dropped the class -- at quite a financial loss -- and returned to Yonsei. Needless to say, reasonable minds can differ, but caveat emptor to those who matriculate at Sogang, especially after level 1. This is particularly the case if you are a Ph.D., post-doc, professor, or aspire to be a "professional."
A cafe on Daum by the name of Worldvill seems to offer Korean lessons through volunteer teachers, in Daehangno close to Hyehwa station. The cost is 5000 per week, which pays for the price of beverages and materials.
Fresh Korean Language Institute is based in Northern Incheon close to Gyesan Station. http://www.freshkorean.com
Ulsan University Currently not all levels are offered, contact the university for more information.