South Korea is one of the top-performing OECD countries in reading, literacy, mathematics and sciences with the average student scoring about 519, compared with the OECD average of 493, which ranks Korean education at ninth place in the world. The country has one of the world's highest-educated labor forces among OECD countries. South Korea is well known for its high standards about education, which has come to be called "education fever". The nation is consistently ranked amongst the top for global education.
If you are looking for a language school in South Korea, you might want to consider applying to one of the universities that offer Korean language programs. Here are some of the best universities to apply to for language courses in South Korea:
1. Sogang University Korean Language Education Center
Sogang University Korean Language Education Center (Sogang KLEC) often comes highly recommended and reviewed among Korean language learners. Since its establishment in 1990, Sogang KLEC has attracted more than 30,000 foreign students from all around the world, with the number of enrolled students reaching 4,000 on average a year. In the regular program, students get a chance to go on an excursion, which includes cultural activities such as Taekwondo class and a temple stay. Sogang KLEC also runs evening classes for people who work or study during the day.
What supports Sogang KLEC’s reputation is its focus on communication skills. The school does not only seek to equip Korean learners with necessary grammar and writing skills, but also lays out the goal of popularising and spreading the Korean language and culture to the international society. The school website has become a bridging platform between local Korean and international students to arrange a meeting for language exchange and become friends. As such, students who want to focus more intensively on conversational and communication skills tend to choose Sogang KLEC.
Sogang KLEC’s prime location has been another steadfast source of its amazing reputation. It is located in the Sinchon area, which is also home to Yonsei University and Ewha Women’s University. This makes the Sinchon area a very lively and energetic suburb in Seoul - it is where the young student culture thrives with streets of relaxing cafes to study at, cheap restaurants and shopping areas to indulge yourself in, and the Korean nightlife to destress from a long week of learning.
2. Yonsei University Korean Language Institute
Known as one of the prestigious “S.K.Y. Universities” in South Korea, Yonsei University offers a wide range of Korean language programs. The history of Yonsei University Korean Language Institute (Yonsei KLI) dates back to 1959, making it the first institute to provide intensive Korean language programs in the country. It is another language school, located in the heart of the Sinchon area, and an average of 1,700 students arrive and study there every year. Yonsei KLI is known as one of the most multicultural Korean language schools in Seoul, which is represented by its alumni network of over 100,000 students from 144 countries. Evening classes are available for those who wish to study Korean after school or work.
As compared to Sogang KLEC, the bulk of reviews of past students show that the teaching at Yonsei KLI tends to focus more on grammar and written Korean. In a sense, this is natural considering that many students wish to study at Yonsei University after the completion of the bridging language course, which requires both fine academic and conversational Korean skills. It is also due to Yonsei KLI’s history of providing Korean education to a unique student body, consisting not only of young students but also missionaries and even diplomats who require the ability to speak and write in Korean fluently and idiomatically.
Yonsei KLI is not just a language school, but an institution that introduces Korean culture and history to its students through a variety of extracurricular activities. Yonsei KLI is designed to help students experience cultural activities such as Korean cooking class and local volunteer experience while providing a taste of the more modern Korean society through K-POP dance class. Additionally, it offers more general student support services, including job opportunities and counseling, which is another strength of the school.
3. Korea University Korean Language Centre (KLC)
Founded in 1986, Korea University Korean Language Centre (Korea University KLC) is a Korean language school affiliated with another “SKY University” - Korea University. Korea University KLC enjoys a good mix of both sojourners who study Korean as a hobby and aspiring students who wish to get into the university courses at one of Korea’s best universities. Since its inception, over 90,000 students have graduated from Korea University KLC, with an average annual attendance of 10,000. Currently, evening classes are available only for online short programs.
Korea University is located in the downtown of Anam, some 10 minutes from the famous shopping heaven in Dongdaemun. Unlike Sinchon where the three institutions I mentioned above are located, Anam is home exclusively to Korea University and has developed as an independent student town with a great balance of study cafes that stay open well after midnight, wallet-friendly and easy meals, as well as bars to spend your weekends at with your peer students.
Korea University KLC takes a well-balanced and systematic approach to Korean language education, and students receive an equal amount of teaching in speaking, listening, writing, and reading. The motto of the school is to lead 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. The Korea University KLC built a brand-new four-story building in 2018, dedicated only to Korean-language students. In addition to 45 classrooms, the building has a lovely rooftop garden that students can use for various purposes - to study, conduct group activities, or simply rest. Check out the school’s Instagram account, and you should be able to get a taste of what a student’s life is like. You can sign up for the Doumi program, and local Korean students will assist with your new life away from home.
Money is not everything, but it is one of the factors that people often consider when deciding which Korean language schools to attend. Korea University KLC is relatively cheaper as compared to other institutions listed in this article. In the case of its regular program, tuition is around 1,500,000-1660,000KRW, beating other schools by roughly 10%.
4. Seoul National University Korean Language Education Institute (SNU)
Last but by no means least, Seoul National University Korean Language Education Institute (Seoul KLEI) is another popular destination for Korean learners. Seoul KLEI stands at the foot of Gwanaksan mountain, and the natural surroundings are one of its most important assets that make possible the school’s calm and peaceful campus settings. Cultural diversity is well embraced, and you will meet passionate students of the Korean language, many of whom use this course as a bridging year before they start studying at Seoul National University.
As an affiliate school of the leading university among the “SKY,” Seoul KLEI is committed to providing quality education, which is supported by the team of experts in language education with a master’s degree or higher in various disciplines. In addition to its classrooms equipped with technologies, Seoul KLEC provides various facilities, including a computer lounge, study rooms, and a cafe for light meals and drinks. The Korean buddy program is available upon request, although the application is limited to students of certain levels and courses.
Another attractive point of Seoul KLEI is the size of classes. While most Korean language schools tend to have an average class size of 15-16 students, the regular program at Seoul KLEI takes a form of much smaller-sized classes, with a total of 12 students on average learning in one room. In addition, students can sign up for elective classes, such as Pronunciation Clinic, TOPIK Preparation Class, and Chinese Character Class, tailor-made to help address students’ specific weaknesses from multiple angles.
5. Hanyang: Ancient Capital, Modern Academics
Hanyang University is a private research university in South Korea. The main campus is in Seoul, and the second one, the Education Research Industry Cluster at Ansan, or ERICA campus, is located in Ansan. Hanyang (한양;漢陽) derives from the former name of the capital Seoul which was used during the Chosun Dynasty. Its motto and educational philosophy is Love in Deed and Truth.
The university established the nation's first engineering institute (DongA Engineering Institute) in 1939 which became the founding facility of Hanyang University. It also established the first school of architecture and civil engineering in Korea.
6. Ewha Language Centre
Nestled in the lively suburb of Sinchon, Ewha Language Centre (ELC) is another prestigious university-based language school whose history dates back to as early as 1962. At a glance, the university’s name - Ewha Women’s University - suggests that the school might not be everyone’s first choice. Don’t let the name fool you though - male students can also enroll in Korean language courses offered at ELC, though girls tend to represent the dominant part of the student body. Every year, a total of 6,000 students come to ELC to learn Korean to become future global leaders.
ELC’s textbooks are well structured and balanced in terms of speaking, writing, reading, and listening, and adopted by many Korean language schools overseas too. In addition to regular classes, ELC holds its annual Korean Speech Contest for Foreigners, where you can output and demonstrate what you have learned throughout your studies there.
ELC grew as a Korean language school by ensuring a caring system for student management. Once you are enrolled, what comes first to your mind is the diversity of your peer students. Teachers at ELC endeavor to maintain as much diversity in each class as possible to ensure that students are communicating in Korean both in and outside class hours. Another important component of ELC’s caring system is the Korean Dowoomi program. By filling in an application, you will be paired up with a local Korean student who will assist with your transition to a new life in South Korea, let alone help you with your Korean learning. The availability of extracurricular activities too is what ELC takes pride in. In fact, you will be impressed with the variety of clubs you can join weekly at ELC, ranging from Dance Club, Singing Club to Photography Club, and a Body-fit Club.
Hanyang University has an alumni network of 330,000 that is not limited to the field of engineering but also to other fields. In 2018, Hanyang was ranked 1st for the number of CEO alumni of venture companies. In 2019, QS World University Rankings ranked Hanyang University 150th.
The university welcomes over 7,400 foreign students each year and more than 3,000 students study abroad annually. HYU counts the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Cambridge, and Tsinghua University among its 820 partner universities in 88 countries.