South Korea is one of the most highly developed economies in all of Asia. The country has gradually diversified over the last decade, and foreigners are often met with beyond kind hospitality. Daily language immersion with locals will increase your confidence and fluency dramatically, on top of your regular language coursework. Interacting with a foreign society on a day-to-day basis will also expand your cross-cultural skills and teach you more about the social and cultural traditions of South Korea. You’ll undoubtedly gain a deeper understanding of an emerging country that uniquely embraces both a modern and traditional way of life tby attending a language school in South Korea.
The most popular places for language study in South Korea are Seoul, Busan, and Gyeongsan. If you’re interested in a dynamic city life, consider studying in Korea’s two biggest cities, Seoul and Busan. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a smaller town experience, Gyeongsan might be a better fit for you.
Seoul has the best Korean language programs in South Korea and is the number one destination for language learning. The city is filled with historic temples, palaces, and pagodas. The country is also home to major technology corporations, including Samsung and LG. Participating in a language program in Seoul will give you the chance to explore one of the most historical and contemporary cities in the world. Language students will have an array of opportunities to practice speaking Korean as they visit the city’s landmarks, eat at local restaurants, and interact with the foreign-friendly society.
Busan contains South Korea’s largest beach and its beautiful waters make it crowded year-round. The subway system is easy to navigate, with only a handful of subway lines. While living and studying Korean in Busan is just as exciting as Seoul, you might find it to be easier to get around, meet locals, and make the city really feel like your home away from home.
Gyeongsan is a short distance from Busan, but the lifestyle moves at a completely different pace. You can visit the peaceful Gatbawi Buddha, a popular place where people pray alongside the historic statue. Gyeongsan is a unique place for language study in Korea; since this might not be the top destination for Korean language schools in South Korea, you’re likely to get more one-on-one attention from both professors and locals in Gyeongsan.
Language Programs in South Korea
Korean is the choice language of study in South Korea; however Korean language programs in South Korea come in a variety of forms, including:
You should definitely consider your goals for language study in South Korea, before choosing the language program you want to apply for. For example, consider these questions to help you focus on the important aspects of why you are looking for a program:
- Are you a first-time Korean language learner and are hoping for some exposure to Korean language and culture?
- Are you more experienced in the language and want to gain full fluency?
- Are you hoping to utilize your Korean language skills in your future career?
Class sizes can vary depending on the class’ level. For example, a beginning level Korean class can have up to 20 language learners, while more advanced levels can have less than 10. Private lessons are always available and always provide more one-on-one attention that will suit your personal language needs. Class length will vary depending on which language school or program you choose; some intensive language programs in Korea may have classes that last for over five hours per day, while other classes may last for only a few hours each day.
If you have the chance to improve your language skill in capacities outside of the classroom, jump on it! Some of the best Korean language schools in South Korea set up cultural music or dance classes too, while other language programs might offer excursions to nearby cities. Try finding a language exchange partner by asking your language program provider for contacts. Once you get settled into the country and confident speaking Korean, you might even want to start networking and finding volunteer or internship opportunities. The best part about language study in South Korea is that you will undoubtedly improve your Korean language skills; how much you improve will depend on the pro-active steps you take while abroad.
Scholarships & Costs
When looking into language programs in South Korea, check to see if the program includes airfare, on-site orientation, meals, housing, excursions, cultural lessons, medical insurance, and a language certificate upon completion of the program, as well as any other benefits and inclusions. The cost of programs vary depending on how long the program is, how “intensive” it is, and the additional “perks” included, so you will get what you pay for.
Shorter one to two week language programs in South Korea can cost anywhere from $500 to $600. Studying at a language school in Seoul for a summer may cost around $6,000, while studying for a semester is expectedly more expensive, at around $12,000. Some language programs in Korea might also have an application fee, ranging from $20 to $50.
School supplies are relatively inexpensive in South Korea, so you can plan on purchasing school materials in-country. Living expenses for language students are estimated to be 800,000 to 900,000 won per month (approximated $700 to $800, depending on the exchange rate).
For American students planning on utilizing Korean in their future careers, there are specialized scholarships available that can help your goal become a reality; however, GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory has a range of scholarship opportunities for language study in South Korea.
Accommodation & Visas
Students interested in being completely immersed in the language and culture of Korea, both inside the classroom and in their living quarters, should consider living with a homestay. You’ll become a part of the family and learn to speak only in Korean throughout the course of your day, at school and at home. It’s good to keep in mind that as a member of the family, you will be expected to follow the family’s house rules, which might include a curfew and cleaning duties.
On the other hand, if you’re more interested in the classroom experience combined with a more independent lifestyle, you might want to consider other housing options provided by language program providers or renting an apartment. Administrators or teachers at language schools in South Korea should be able to help you evaluate the safety of the area you are considering living. With an intricate subway system, transportation is generally very reliable in South Korea, so your location can be a bit more flexible.
If you are American and your language program in South Korea is 90 days or more, a student visa and passport valid for six months after your trip is required. Some consulates do require an in-person appearance too. If your program is less than 90 days, you can attend it without obtaining a student visa. Your program provider or language school in Korea can provide you with further guidance and support to help you obtain a visa, if necessary. If you’re a non-U.S. citizen, check with your local Korean embassy or consulate to verify study requirements for South Korea. As visas sometimes take awhile to process, as soon as you decide on a language program in South Korea, you should apply for a visa immediately.
Benefits & Challenges
Foreign Friendly, English Speaking Society. Though you are going to abroad with the purpose of Korean language study, it’s comforting to know that the majority of locals also speak English.
Educational Value. Korean society places a high value on education. As you take classes instructed by Korean teachers and professors, you will find that their delivery of lessons will certainly bring a quality language experience.
Experience a New Culture. No matter which city you choose for your language study in Korea, the nation’s long history and mix of religions will definitely provide you with a multitude of cultural festivals and events throughout the year.