A question we often hear at Asia Options is where we, and other language learners, think is the best place for learning Korean? To really assess where you should learn Korean it pays to take the time to carefully consider your options.
You have already made the best decision you could have in your pursuit of learning Korean and that’s moving to the country. While all students have the goal of speaking Korean we all have different preferences of learning, different standards for housing, different reasons for learning Korean and most importantly different budgets!
There is also a serious lack of information out there on Korean language programs. Some courses don’t even have information online in English! So to help you make the best decision, the Asia Options team has done the hard work for you. We have curated a list of Korean language program reviews with insight from Korean language students who have attended the best and the worst Korean language courses in Seoul.
The major universities in Korea run a similar designed Korean language course for foreign students and are typically structured as a pathway option for later studying a degree program in Korean. This is a very popular option for students from China, Japan, Mongolia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and other countries in Asia. Whereas western students often only study 1-4 semesters of Korean language and do not continue to study a degree program in Korean.
Semesters at universities are usually divided into four 10 week blocks with 20 hours a week of class time, and a choice between morning or afternoon classes. Afternoon classes are generally slightly cheaper. As language programs at Korean universities are designed as pathway programs to further degree study, the courses are focused primarily on grammar, listening and reading comprehension, and less emphasis on speaking. For those studying long-term, studying at a university will usually be cheaper than studying at a private language program and provides visa support.
In choosing the right university, it’s very important to consider location and the campus environment/atmosphere. Teaching standards, cultural activities, curriculum and class formats are relatively uniform across most universities and while there are differences in tuition fees, the margins between different universities are not usually that high. However there are some bargains to be found at Chung Ang University, and you will pay a premium to study at Yonsei University (which is most the popular program in terms of foreign student numbers).
Some universities are known more for their party environment and proximity to Seoul’s nightlife, including Yonsei, Sogang and Ewha. While other universities are relatively secluded, and quieter and comfortable to study, such as Seoul National University and Korea University. Kyung Hee University is also a top choice for those cramming for the TOPIK exam, and Sungkyunkwan University can fast-track your language learning via their six semester year program.
- Ewha Womens University
- Chung Ang University
- Korea University
- Kyung Hee University
- Sungkyunkwan University
- Sogang University
- Seoul National University
- Soongsil University
- Yonsei University
Academies or private language schools in Seoul are still relatively new to the scene and are shaking up the established monopoly held by the universities. Catering primarily to the short-term study market and working professionals, private academies offer a greater level of flexibility for international students with weekend classes, tailored classes and short-term (even one week programs!). Class sizes are typically smaller than university Korean language programs, and whereas university programs are designed as a pathway to degree study, private schools have a much larger emphasis on speaking and offer more practical study content. Private programs do provide more academic orientated and TOPIK preparation classes as well.
Academies are usually well organised and offer engaging extra-curriculum activities as well as a fun environment to study, and offer helpful support from teachers and program administrators. The downsides are that the private schools in Korea usually cannot support a long term study visa as universities can (these regulations are rumoured to change in the future), tuition fees are generally higher, and there is a lack of campus environment, but there is more of a small family community feeling. Academies are ideally suited to short-term students or full-time professionals looking to maximise their language and cultural immersion through a tailored and organised program. There are a number of conveniently located private Korean academies in Seoul. These include in Gangnam: Lexis Korea, Korean Language Academy, and in Sinchon: Best Friend Korean Language School.