Learning Korean at Ewha Women's University

originally posted elsewhere

My thoughts on the Korean Language program at Ewha Women's University.

Someone emailed me yesterday and asked me my thoughts on Ewha. What a great time to write about it seeing as how class just started again.

I've written about Ewha before and I would recommend reading those posts first. Also, I recently participated in a podcast recording over at LanguageCast that deals with my experiences at Ewha. I highly recommend listening to this mp3 if you're wondering what it's like to be a guy at a women's universityUPDATE: link up and running ^^

But like other people on the internet looking for a good 오학당, I was disappointed to only find info on Yonsei (연세) and Sogang (서강). Surely there must be others? Like you, I was disappointed about the lack of info on Ewha. I could only find reviews of Sogang and Yonsei.

While I can't speak directly about those university programs but I have friends who went to both programs and said "it was good, but..." as in good for speaking but not for writing and vice versa. When prompted to speak about Ewha, I have only good things to say.

In my opinion, Ewha is well-balanced. The program focuses on all four parts of language: speaking, listening, reading, writing. The textbooks is in all Korean with a lot of supplemental material in class. This means that 100% self-study is not possible through the textbook itself - you must attend class to get the point. The facilities are clean and accommodating. The textbooks are cheap (under 50 USD for textbook, workbook, and study guide) and are clearly laid out. The homework is mostly relevant. The daily work is very helpful. The in-class speaking activities are especially helpful. I have no real complaints about the program. It's very comprehensive and is of the highest quality in my opinion. Studying diligently on your own and taking the classes seriously has a strong possibility to produce some seriously fluent speakers.

Of course the classes are available to both men and women as the language center is separate from the actual university. The teachers are well-trained and clearly take their job seriously. Don't expect just some native speaker - these are qualified instructors who value your interest in learning Korean.

Since the classes are small, having no more than ten students at a time in my experience, the teachers are able to address each student individually. This small class atmosphere also helps to build good relationships with your fellow students, whom I ended up hanging out with plenty after class. Learning to only use Korean with fellow students (who may or may not speak English) was a great way to keep me on my toes.

Now for the good part - have I learned anything? As of this writing, I have been studying Korean for two and a half years (coming from no prior knowledge of Korean) and I'm able to speak conversational Korean. My accent isn't the best, my grammar isn't always perfect, and my vocabulary is limited. However, it's a process and I've seen huge levels of progress since last year.

So am I perfect? No way. But I have noticed crazy amounts of improvement from the classes. I highly recommend anyone in Seoul to take classes at this language school versus a 학원 or some other language school.

If anyone reading this blog has taken classes at Ewha also, please post your thoughts, too ^^

Which brings me to the present.

I'm in level three (3) now. How did I go from level one to level three without going through level two? Not sure but I like my class. I'm understanding at least 70% of all that my teacher is talking about at all times which is amazing for me. I like my classmates and it looks like this semester will be a productive one. Now, if I can just pay my tuition on time...


UPDATE: Night classes are tough but very productive. I highly recommend taking a class or two. Worth every penny.

6 Responses to “Learning Korean at Ewha Women's University”

holterbarbour said...

I did the evening course for a while, and though my teacher was excellent, I hate, hate, HATED the Ewha text. For me, I'm interested in learning how to speak Korean, not how to *be* Korean... I think the texts are far too focused on Korean culture-- which any expat in Korea has been exposed to over and over again merely by virtue of being in the country.

Matthew Smith said...

@ holterbarbour - I agree. My filter was set so high that it didn't bother me until you pointed it out. While we can both probably agree that while learning any language, understanding the culture is inevitable (i.e. American English uses "I" a lot while Koreans have thirty million different ways to say hello hinting at subtle social differences) I will say that the Ewha text is pretty propaganda-soaked. The part that irked me the most wasn't so much the culture but the image. the chapter that talks about losing weight drove me crazy. Two women are sitting in a cafe talking about not eating as means of a good diet. Such is Korea, I suppose.

Anyways, thanks for the comment!

Gwen said...

Hi Matthew,

thank you for taking in effort in posting this. you're right, yonsei and sogang are so over-rated that i could hardly find a review on ewha.
anyhows, i am having serious considerations in taking the intensive course at ewha this coming aug, where did you stay while you were there? i'll be there for a month or so, so somewhere inexpensive will be good. I am with a friend, in case you need tt info :)

Feel free to add in anything if there is (e. recommendations, things to note etc.) :)

Thanks in adv!


gwen

Matthew Smith said...

@Gwen - I really should update this post because they have since made a brand new textbook and changed up the format a little. Even better, in my opinion.

The first time I stayed there during the intensive a few years back was in the graduate dorm. I must warn you that the dorm fee was more than the actual tuition. Other than that, I stayed on my own. Since coming last year, I had a job so my job payed for my housing so I basically commuted. Hope that helps. If you're looking for off campus housing, email the school office and ask - they might be able to hook you up.

Kai Ying said...

hi, can I ask where is the exact location of the language center since you mentioned that the language center is separate from the actual university

LadyEllenM said...

click the below site for campus map. No.27 of building is ‘Ewha-Samsung Education Building’(Ewha Language Center).
http://www.ewha.ac.kr/english/html/campusmap_eng/Map.html#