Heart ‘n Seoul: 7 Ways to Learn Korean in Seoul
Have you ever dreamed of wandering around Gyeongbokgung Palace?
Nibbling on 떡볶이 (tteok-bokki — stir-fried rice cakes) and 파전 (pa-jeon — scallion pancakes)?
Craning your neck to look all the way up at the top of Namsan Tower?
Imbibing Seoul’s world-famous nightlife big-time?
All while learning Korean, hardcore?
Because it’s totally possible!
There are many different ways to learn Korean in Seoul, ranging from full-time year- or semester-long courses for the seriously studious learners, to study/travel package tours for those of us who want to play as hard as we work.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some great options.
But first, let’s talk about how you should prepare for your sojourn in Seoul.
Before You Fly: Preparing for Life in Seoul
It’s good to give yourself a little advantage before jetting off to study in Seoul. Here are a few things you can do to prepare yourself.
- While it’s not hard to find an English speaker to help you in a bind, why not learn a few Korean travel phrases before you go?
- Having a few Korean translator apps handy will save your skin during the inevitable awkward moments while you’re still learning your way around the city, or struggling to find the right train!
- To give yourself an even stronger headstart, learn how to read in Korean before you go. After only a short few weeks learning the Hangul alphabet, you can entertain yourself on your flight to Seoul by reviewing your Hangul and basic vocabulary.
Throw yourself into learning all 40 letters in one free afternoon, or break the alphabet into chunks that feel manageable for you. Make vocabulary lists with words that use your new letters, and practice reading often by using flashcards as well as following Korean native speakers on social media. Read out loud as much as possible to practice your pronunciation.
- Speaking of which, it’s also a great idea to familiarize yourself with spoken Korean before you leave for Seoul by watching Korean videos on FluentU.
Here's a quick look at the variety of video choices available to you:
Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.
Don't stop there, though. You can use FluentU’s unique quizzes to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions.
FluentU even tracks your progress and remembers all the words you've learned, making for a 100% personalized experience.
Review sessions use video context to help embed the words in your memory. The best part? You can access the full FluentU video library with a free trial!
Start using FluentU Korean on the website or download the app from the iTunes or Google Play store.
So now that you’re all prepared, your bags are packed and your flashcards are full of Korean words and letters, where should you go?
Finding the Best Korean Course in Seoul for You
How much time do you have to learn Korean? What can you afford? Do you want time outside of class to see Seoul and maybe travel around Korea, or would you rather focus wholly on learning Korean? Maybe you’re a university student, and would like your Korean course to count toward your degree. Make sure you consider these important factors while looking at the courses below.
For travelers and people with a general interest in Korean culture and language, perhaps a general Korean course would be ideal to familiarize yourself with usable Korean vocabulary and grammar, and to meet other students to practice with.
A “study tour” is a guided tour with included cultural activities, combined with a set number of language classes. It’s a great option for students, or first-time travelers who don’t feel confident arriving alone in a strange city! On a study tour, you’ll make friends, see the city (or even travel outside the city), and improve your language skills along the way!
If you hope to qualify to study at a Korean university, for business employment or nationality acquisition, consider a TOPIK course, which will prepare you for the nationwide language accreditation exam.
If there’s a specific type of language you wish to learn, or if perhaps you would just prefer to study at your own pace, 1:1 lessons with a private tutor are available at many Korean language schools.
For university students, few experiences can top a year or semester studying abroad—and where better to study than at one of Seoul’s top universities?
Choosing the right course for your needs can be tricky, but chances are there’s a perfect Korean language course waiting for you in Seoul.
Heart ‘n Seoul: 7 Ways to Learn Korean in Seoul
With general Korean courses covering all levels, as well as TOPIK preparation courses and 1:1 tutoring available, worldwide language school Lexis’s Korean school in fabulous Gangnam is a fantastic option for many types of Korean learners.
One of the best things about Lexis is its fantastic flexibility: You can start on any Monday, and stay for as long as you like—or you can study for just a week! Lexis can also hook you up with several different accommodation options, including apartments nearby or a host family.
Lexis Korea has a great culture of language immersion through socialization, and hosts regular events, student meetups and cultural activities on weekends. For those who love the beachside life, Lexis also has recently opened a campus in the seaside city of Busan.
Guaranteed to be a highlight in any young linguist’s life, not to mention a serious boost to your resume, studying abroad at a Korean university is an opportunity not to be missed.
Live it up in the center of Seoul’s youth and arts culture, Hongdae, while studying at Hongik University. Hongik offers four 10-week Korean language courses per year, with six levels of proficiency available. There are more than 50 clubs available for intermediate- or higher-level students to join and make friends in at Hongik University. Just be aware that Hongik doesn’t provide accommodation.
If studying abroad sounds like the perfect addition to your university experience, check out similar opportunities at University of Seoul or Yonsei University.
Korea University offers an even wider range of courses than many of the others. In addition to four 10-week language programs per year, Korea University offers Special Programs, a Youth Summer Camp and Summer Intensive Program. For advanced Korean speakers interested in becoming Korean language teachers, a teacher training program is available at Korea University or online.
Students enrolled in the regular Korean language program can stay in the Frontier House, a new on-campus dormitory.
Seoul National University
Prepare to impress every Korean person you meet for the rest of your life if you choose to study at Korea’s most prestigious university, Seoul National University, which offers both long- and short-term Korean language courses, as well as a Korean teacher training program.
SNU also offers several undergraduate degrees in English within the Humanities department—so who knows, perhaps you could complete your degree in Seoul!
You can live on-campus at Seoul National University Gwanaksa, which is complete with a student counseling center and in-house gym.
Go! Go! Hanguk
Here’s one for the travelers. If you want to work hard and play hard, while making Korean-speaking friends along the way, a study tour may be the perfect option for you.
Go! Go! Hanguk is the perfect marriage of travel and learning, combining language lessons at Lexis Korea with package tours covering unmissable cultural experiences around Seoul.
While most study abroad programs require students to be over 18, Go! Go! Hanguk also offers a safe and fun trip for younger Korean learners, aged 14-17. The Youth Korea Course is fully supervised and runs for 14 days. Older students can currently join a 3-week Summer Course. You can arrange accommodation through Go! Go! Hanguk, who offer a range of options including share-housing, mini-studios and living with a host family.
Best Friend Korean Language School
As the lovely name would suggest, Best Friend is a Korean language school with a strong focus on friendship and cultural exchange, and with a reputation for excellent student support.
In addition to general Korean, TOPIK and business Korean courses, Best Friend offers 1:1 conversation tutoring as well as cultural exchange between Korean native speakers and English, Japanese and Chinese speakers.
This is another Korean school with flexible timelines, and you can study from one week to an entire year. You can also choose when you want to study, whether you would prefer to study on weekday nights or Saturdays (to allow you ample time to soak up the wonderful culture and lifestyle of Seoul).
Best Friend also offers a range of flexible and reasonable accommodation options, including a one-room studio apartment, a mini-studio (warning: these places are small!), a homestay or a share-house. An accommodation option unique to Best Friend is the opportunity to stay in a 하숙 (ha-suk), which is a kind of share-house where you live with Korean students. In a 하숙, two meals are provided per day, according to a schedule.
I can’t speak for everyone, but this sounds like possibly the most fun way you could learn Korean in Seoul—by combining it with K-pop training!
While Rolling Korea does offer regular general Korean courses, what sets this school apart from the rest are the optional afternoon classes that include dance and vocal training.
If you’ve ever had a secret dream of strutting on the Mnet stage, Rolling Korea is the school for you.
You can study at Rolling Korea for a single week or an entire year, starting the first Monday of every month. The Intensive course offers a total of 18 hours per week of study, while the Regular Korean course offers 13 hours per week. The Korean and K-pop course runs for a minimum of one month, with a total of 60 hours of language study per month, plus dance and vocal lessons. Rolling Korea runs two share-houses for Rolling Korea students only, plus a small studio building and a guest house.
There are few experiences quite like traveling to a country to learn its language.
As each day goes by, you’ll hear your language skills grow, and see the culture reveal itself to you in an entirely new way.
You’ll make friends, too, friends who share your fascination with Korean language and culture, who will prove invaluable as you continue to work through the tricky ins-and-outs of the Korean language!
So if the opportunity to learn Korean in Seoul is available to you, don’t be afraid to take it.
Learning Korean in Seoul is an experience you’ll never forget.