Learning the Korean language can be a pain in the neck. From honorifics that you have to always consider when speaking and hundreds and thousands of different situational endings, to words that mean different things but sounds exactly the same, there are so many things that make comprehending Korean difficult and confusing. At the same time, you would have to achieve a certain level of mastery especially if you are someone who is looking to settle down in Korea. You have been feeling like you should start going to a Korean language school to immerse yourself in a productive and effective learning environment but are not sure where to look.
For those who are unsure or torn about what Korean language school to attend, I would recommend the Korea University Korean Language Centre (KLC). Nestled in a vibrant neighbourhood of Anam in northeastern Seoul, KLC is one of the leading university-based Korean language schools in Korea. In this article, I will take you through multifaceted aspects of the benefits and advantages of studying at KLC based on my personal experience.
Website: Korea University Korean Language Centre (Available in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese)
Established in the year 1986, KLC is one of the leading Korean language schools located in northeastern Seoul. As the school name suggests, KLC is an affiliation of Korea University, a prestigious Korean academic institution internationally recognised for its position as one of the ‘SKY Universities’ together with Seoul National University and Yonsei University. A total of 10,000 students on average attend KLC’s distinguished language programs, and over 120,000 international students of different backgrounds have learnt at this school over the past few decades.
KLC uses a quarter system for its academic year, which consists of four 10-week sessions (spring, summer, fall, and winter semesters). In order to study at KLC, you must have completed at least high school or equivalent education (except for the Youth Summer Program). Application is open roughly until 5 - 6 weeks prior to commencement dates of each semester, and you can submit your application package both online and in person at the KLC admin office. Your application should include the following documents:
Certificate of graduation or proof of enrollment for the final school (original)
A copy of passport
Bank statement (balance over USD 10,000)
Once your application has been processed, you will receive a Letter of Acceptance, with which you can apply for a student visa in Korea. Normally, students who study at KLC obtain a D-4 visa.
About one week prior to the beginning of each semester, new students must go through a placement test in order to determine what levels to attend. The KLC placement tests consist of two parts. First, a few days before the placement test, you will be asked to write a brief self-introduction in Korean and bring it with you when you take the test. It is totally up to you to write whatever you want - hobbies, favourite music, countries you would like to visit are a good place to start. Then on the test day, you will undergo a face-to-face interview with one of the KLC instructors. The interview is conducted in a very relaxing manner in which the instructor kicks off by asking you to do a short self-introduction, followed by a few questions and conversations based on what you have written on your self-introduction. Because the placement test is designed to test where you are at in terms of Korean language skills, complete the self-introduction by yourself to make sure you are assigned into a class of your proper level.
Textbooks used at KLC are available at the Korea University Bookstore and come in six different levels. The contents are very balanced, and the textbooks also include CDs you can use for listening practice. Photo: English Shop
It is very hard to pinpoint one advantage of studying at KLC just because there are so many to list! Let’s start off by looking at the most popular ‘Regular Program.’ Under this program, students are exposed to experienced instructors’ well-balanced approach to learning Korean. Regular Program students take four 50-minute classes every day and spend a day brushing up 2 - 3 aspects of the essential language skills - speaking, writing, listening, and reading. A typical day in the life of a Regular Program Student might start with one listening class, spending the next two classes on speaking and wrapping up the day with writing in the last class. You will be spending roughly 50 hours on each of the four skills through a busy semester (1 semester = 200 hours).
As such, KLC’s learning method is very balanced and systematic. But if I were to choose specific aspects that the school focuses on, I would say speaking and writing. In terms of speaking, instructors incorporate role-plays in many classes, in which students are asked to speak Korean as if they were in a real-time situation, like shopping, at a hospital, and presenting your research at university. Role-plays are performed both individually and in a team, which definitely adds inventiveness to the course and helps students speak more naturally and confidently in a given context.
Writing too is what KLC emphasises on. To refine writing skills, students get a writing assignment every week on a given topic, and one or two students are randomly chosen from the class to present their works. Teachers then collect the assignments, proofread, highlight mistakes and parts that sound a little off or unnatural, and give some feedback. When you receive your assignment, teachers usually spend a few minutes going through mistakes that many students in the class made and take questions. Practising your writing, having someone look at it, and finding out where you have made mistakes without leaving them unsolved is an effective way to improve writing skills.
For the Regular Program, morning and afternoon sessions are offered to accommodate students’ differing schedules. Photo: Korea University Korean Language Centre
In addition to the Regular Program, KLC offers a variety of other courses, creating a very flexible learning environment. If you are a university student and just looking for an opportunity to study Korean on your holidays, the ‘Short-term Intensive Program’ is a perfect match for you. In this 3 or 4-week program, you will be spending around 6 hours a day studying Korean. In addition to general Korean classes that happen in the morning, individual students split into three courses in the afternoon, with each designed to improve more specific areas of Korean learning - ‘Practical Korean’ (situation-based conversations), ‘Vocabulary & Grammar’ (learning various meanings and usages of vocabulary and grammar), and ‘Media Korean’ (learning social issues in Korea).
If you are a teenager, you can also sign up for the ‘Youth Summer School’ where you can both learn Korean and have first-hand Korean cultural experience during school holidays. In Korean cultural classes, you will be exposed to both modern and traditional Korean culture, including calligraphy, K-POP Dance, Taekkyeon, and field trips to must-see spots in Korea. Those who cannot be present on campus due to time restraint may find the ‘Online Short-term Program’ attractive. In this short program, class size is capped at around 8 students, meaning you will be getting more intimate support from your instructors and given more opportunities to output your learning in the class.
Korea University boasts a beautiful campus situated in green nature where local people take a stroll and people outside the neighbourhood come visit for photo shooting. Being able to study at one of Korea’s oldest universities is the perk of studying at KLC! Photo: Korea University Instagram
As a university-based language school, a large number of students who are attending KLC are aspiring students who wish to get into Korea University’s prestigious academic programs after the completion of the language course. And for those who intend to study Korean for academic purposes, KLC offers the primal environment in which students can actually learn on the Korea University campus.
Studying alongside both local and international students at Korea University is simply a great incentive to KLC students. However, the benefits of studying at KLC goes beyond that. KLC students are actually given access to some of the Korea University facilities. For example, KLC students get access to the Korea University library. At the library, there are thousands and millions of books you can borrow not only in Korean but also in other languages including English, Japanese, Chinese and so on. If you live near the campus, do make use of study rooms located inside the library as you prepare for the midterm and final exams. A student entry pass can be issued at the Information Centre located inside the Korea University Library one week after the starting date. At the International Studies Hall, KLC students can also use school computers to do research for their assignments and for additional learning purposes such as TOPIK preparation.
The brand new KLC building is located at the back of the campus, which is within just 5 minutes walking distance from the Korea University student dorms for international students. Photo: 고려대학교 한국어센터 Instagram
It is not unheard of that university-affiliated language school students are in a sense marginalised. They might be given only a very limited learning space in one of the university faculty buildings or have to deal with the hassle of switching classrooms every week. By contrast, KLC has one of the best learning environments and facilities among university-based language schools in Korea.
KLC is founded on the principle of becoming a leader in Korean language learning by providing a state-of-the-art educational environment and multimedia facilities and focusing on constantly developing more efficient teaching methods and materials. To live up to this principle, Korea University continues to invest in KLC in order to optimise its learning environment.
The most recent development came in 2018 when Korea University built a brand new four-story building, entirely dedicated to Korean language students. Located near the Korea University Library, this spacious building covers a massive 5244.23 m2 field, including 45 classrooms, a large auditorium designed for both specialised language education and cultural experiences as well as an open grass area. On top of that, the building has a nice rooftop that students can use to conduct group activities and simply chat with classmates during breaks. For your convenience, Twosome Place (cafe) and the Korea University cafeteria are also located within 2 minutes walking distance from the KLC building.
안암의 모든 것 (Everything in Anam) provides a wide range of helpful information, ranging from cheap and tasty restaurants in Anam and on-campus cafes to how to find a place and events held at Korea University. Photo: 안암의 모든 것 Facebook
Last but by no means least, financial costs are often listed as one of the top concerns among international students when looking for an institution to study at. In terms of tuition, KLC is much cheaper as compared to other university-affiliated language schools. Take Regular Program, for example, the tuition per semester at Sogang University Language Education Centre is 1,790,000 KRW while spending one semester at Yonsei University Korean Language Institute costs you around 1,730,000 KRW. However, the tuition goes down to 1,500,000 KRW at KLC (for the morning class, it is 1,660,000KRW which is still much cheaper than other popular languages schools), beating other schools by around 15%.
In addition, you can go wallet-friendly by living near KLC. Other university-based schools such as ones at Yonsei University, Sogang University, and Ewha Women’s University are nestled in the Sinchon/Hongdae areas. As these areas are not only home to students but also inhabited by tourists and businesses, things tend to be more expensive. On the other hand, the local downtown of Anam is structured exclusively around Korea University and its students. As such you can easily find local restaurants where you can be full with a 5,000 KRW note while there are so many off-campus studio apartments whose rents are set at reasonable prices for students.