Although not as popular for Western students as the Korean language courses on offer from the universities in Sinchon, the Chung-Ang University Korean Language Program* offers a structured and thorough learning program for a cheaper price, and with good exposure to various Korean cultural activities throughout the semester. Chung-Ang is another University with dual campuses, however this review will focus on their Seoul campus.
*Most of the important course information in English is located on a pop-up, which can be accessed here.
|Term Dates||4th week of March – End of May||4th week of June – End of Aug||4th week of Sep – End of Nov||4th week of Dec – End of Feb 2016|
For exact dates, see here.
At 1,500,000 KRW per semester + 100,000 KRW application fee, Chung-Ang’s Regular Program is significantly cheaper than its competitors.
Located in Heukseok, CAU is within 5 minutes walking distance from Heukseok Station on Line 9, and 10 minutes to Sangdo Station on Line 7. Notable nearby landmarks include Soongsil University to the south, Noryangjin fish market to the west, and Seoul National Cemetery to the east. Heukseok is by no means party central, but there are many restaurants and cafes around the uni catering to the student population. There are only a few bars which means that you won’t have to put up with late-night revelry, but you may have to venture out a bit to experience Korean nightlife. However the area is notorious for its traffic congestion (especially in the morning) and is often a common complaint among students and residents.
Living in Heukseok-dong close to CAU is a popular option for students, however the shortage of accommodation in the area surrounding the university means you will need to get in quick weeks before the semester begins. Surrounding areas such as Noryangjin, Sangdo and Nodeul are a good alternative and have a large amount of buses that service CAU (there is even a free shuttle bus exclusively for CAU students that runs to and from Noryangjin Station to CAU campus via Sangdo every 10 minutes). Property around Heukseok is mainly limited to villas or one-room accommodation with prices averaging around 500,000KRW per month with 5,000,000 key money.
Bongcheon-dong and other areas that surround Seoul National University Station (서울대역) also provide a convenient living alternative. See our SNU Review.
Living on campus dormitories was until recently offered only to degree students, but this has now opened to include students enrolled in the Korean language program. Dormitory fees are about 2,600,000KRW per year, however during semester breaks you will be required to pay an additional fee. Campus dorm spaces are also limited and again it pays to get in early as rooms are typically provided on a first come first serve basis. Check out Goshipages or look for a place to live near Chung-Ang for more information on housing.
CAU is well known for its excellence in arts; including theatre, media, film, photography and design. As a result, you will find heaps of cool sculptures and outdoor art pieces on campus.
Since their Korean language program is not such a popular a destination for Western students, their curriculum is known to place more of an emphasis on grammar and writing than speaking as many international enrollees at CAU go on to study a degree after their language studies.
The Chung-Ang University Korean Language Program caters primarily to Asian students seeking a pathway into a degree program. In terms of student demographics, around 90% of students in the language program are from Asia, mostly from China, Vietnam, and Malaysia. The course textbooks have a Chinese translation and explanation, and sometimes the English version has to be obtained on request from the International Education office. However, more recently CAU prefers to group Western students together in their own classes. The typical 10% cohort of western students are usually from America, Canada, and Europe and only take language courses, whereas students from Asia typically go on to complete a degree after their language studies.
The campus is designed to fit in well with its natural surroundings and offers many places to sit under a tree with your friends after class (there is even a small man-made lake with a dragon water fountain). The atmosphere is what you’d expect for a typical university. If you’re looking for a party atmosphere you’d be better off going to Hongdae or Yonsei.
Staff are professional and very helpful and will go to extra lengths to help you assimilate into university life, even offering a buddy program that partners you up with a Korean student at the university, providing a great opportunity to make new friends and practice your speaking. There are also many opportunities to speak outside of the class and the university encourages student participation in various university groups or clubs (동아리).
In terms of networking, the university really pushes the 동아리 clubs and societies and by joining up to a few of these you will no doubt make local Korean friends and networks. This is a great aspect of the university, as many more popular universities have a noticeable Korean/foreigner division. CAU is renowned for its drama, media, and film faculties, so it is not out of the ordinary to come across students looking for foreigners to act as an extra or model for their projects. There are also opportunities to join K-pop classes, as well as language contest, and talent show opportunities.
Asia Options Verdict
Chung-Ang’s Korean language course itself is a solid, if not remarkable, course with a slight focus on literary skills.
The welcoming atmosphere and extra-curricular activities are a great way to balance study with a rewarding cultural experience.
In addition, the lack of English speaking students around campus means you will be thrust in the deep end and made to speak Korean with other students – if you want to learn the language this is really the best way to do it. This will also open up more opportunities to network and participate in activities that in other universities you may not have the chance to do.
However, the university is not situated in a particularly exciting part of Seoul and will not present the volume of job opportunities as other, larger programs. But if your goal really is to focus on learning Korean, Chung-Ang University is a great choice, especially considering it is significantly cheaper than other programs.