Seeing as I have a bit of time on my hands before starting my new job, I thought id better blog as much as I can! I’m going to write a few entries on my experience at Yonsei University Korean Language Institute, which I attended for two terms in 2012 and also Yonsei’s Global House student dormitory, where I lived during those two terms.
This post will be on the language school.
In order to give a more coherent review, I’ve split it up into categories. Hopefully this will be more helpful for you guys.
Unlike the way we run language classes for English in Australia; communicative games, lots of time for students to talk in class etc., lessons in korea are generally very ‘jug and mug’ – meaning students sit at their desk and are expected to take in what the teacher is saying. Although some teachers were a little different, I think I played a word game once, overall the approach was the same. So coming from an educational background, I had a lot to say…but held my tongue and got through the classes. There was a lot of ROTE learning (memorizing) and repeating after the teacher, which can be helpful but there are better ways.
Jug and mug
It’s hit and miss with this one. You have a main teacher, reading teacher and option class teacher. out of the 4 hours a day you spend in school, 3 are with your main teacher 1 with reading and if its option class day then you do option instead of the reading hour. For level 3, we had a main teacher change after mid-term exams.
Most of my level 3 teachers were okay, I had a really good main teacher after the change who was energetic and taught less ‘jug and mug’ style.. I had an awful reading teacher who seemed to be pregnant and eternally ill with a cold. But that wasn’t why she was awful. I really disliked the way she spoke to us, as if we were kindergarten students.. her classes were also very boring, as she always did exercises the same way and had a droning voice, she just wasn’t nice either. Seemed to have a bee in her bonnet everyday. I think she must have been sick of her job and ready to quit. In terms of context, I guess they all knew the stuff…but you would after you’ve taught it for the 50th time.
Level 4 started out better… but wasn’t any better in the end, unfortunately, in fact worse. There is no teacher change in level 4, so I was hoping that I’d get really good teachers. My main teacher was good, had a sense of humor and was talkative…but for some reason our class didn’t respond well with her, so the classes became boring and sometimes I felt I was the only one talking. I can’t say it was her fault, I think my class sucked, really. Just a bunch of boring people with nothing to say and no interests. Our reading teacher was also good, bit of a nerdy lady but funny and taught with her own kind of energy, cracked a joke now and then as well. Unfortunately our main teacher had to leave after a few weeks to teach another program – what the? – so only our class had a teacher change. This is when things went down hill super fast.
Our new teacher was appalling! I disliked her from day 1. She had a weird way of teaching, not only did she talk very slowly, as if we were stupid, she also had a slight arrogance in the way she’d tap her chalk on the board quickly every 5 seconds to get our attention.. Her manner was just very strange, difficult to describe. She also didn’t respect our opinions. Sometimes she’d tell a student that their opinion was wrong! Even if it was a cultural one, exclusive to that particular students country. I seriously think she was unstable. Her board work was messy and she also had a habit of making a Cookie Monster sound before directing a question at someone. i.e ” mbaahhh ~ Daniel! … ? mbaahhh ~ Teresa! ” … Really, very strange. She also asked for food and coffee from students without shame, which I also found weird and she wanted to stick her finger into my lip balm pot, which was shocking for me! because I don’t usually share lip balm, especially with someone who hasn’t washed their hands. I think maybe she has the wong idea of foreigners. To me it seemed she felt foreigners were open, therefore she seemed to think it was ‘anything goes’ for us, so we would not mind being asked for food or to share lip balm. Sure, I can see how that can be true, between friends maybe. However, as a teacher its different and I didn’t think it was right for her to behave that way. Also, its not like our class was made up students from English speaking countries only. There was Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Swedish, Hongkong and one Aussie. So it would be wrong to have the same approach for all students. The end of term party topped it off, she suggested we bring food and have a little party – great! I thought. Some free conversation time, might be fun! DISAPPOINTMENT to say the least. Not only did she turn up without any food, she tore open everything quickly and started eating herself first. I still have the image of her scoffing a TimTam and asking what it was. .. ergh…
So…the rest of my term was horrible. I hated going to class and my attendance dropped. I don’t think I’d ever hated going to class that much. If I were continuing to level 5, I would have been concerned, but seeing as it was the last term for me, I couldn’t give a rats butt.
I was happy with the textbook. You will be asked to buy 4 books each term; main textbook, reading textbook, workbook and another book used for your ‘option’ class, which you get to choose later out of speaking, reading, writing and listening.
The speaking option book:
The main textbook was all in color, lots of pictures and content was presented in more interesting ways than other books I’ve used. Given that, don’t expect too much. The textbook supports the teaching method. Every chapter begins with a dialogue, which includes the grammar patterns and vocabulary of the day. We would usually read through this with the teacher and then again in pairs where we would be asked to try and memorise it. I thought this was the most ridiculous exercise, given the fact that I had no idea what i was memorizing due to the new words and grammar patterns.
The reading book was black, grey and a light shade of green… or orange depending on your level. There are quite a lot of texts but you don’t study all of them, which made me feel i could have just photocopied the 6 or so readings we covered.
The workbooks are a must have. Picture below are of the reading and workbook.
All books come with audio CD so you can listen to the dialogues or texts yourself.
I bought my books second hand off the student board at KLI for about 50% off. They were close to new. Full price, the text books are 68 000won and the option book is another additional 18 000won or so. The student lounge at Yonsei university has a book shop which gives you 3% discount.
I’ve studied in Seoul National University, Kyunghee University and Yonsei. I have to say in terms of the school building, they’re all pretty similar. Probably built around the same time, so nothing flashy and small classrooms. However, out of all three, Yonsei had the worst desks! they were those one seater chair-desks.. yes, the ones where a desk is fixed to a chair. The problem with these are that the desk is tiny. You can hardly fit your books on it and if your butt is any bigger than an aussie size 10 (US size 6) well.. You might be hanging off it. You may also get a sore back after awhile, as you can’t really change you sitting position due to the fact that the chair-desk is not one of those new ones, where the desk can be lifted and put away and it’s not cushioned. You need to ‘limbo’ into your seat every morning.
All classrooms are small, fitting around 12 chairs, organised around the room in a U shape – better watch out for perverts if you’re wearing a mini! Also, we were told the chairs are the very same chairs that were used when Yonsei KLI first started. Now, Im not sure whether they told us that so we could marvel at how ancient and sturdy the chairs were, but I wasn’t impressed. Yonsei KLI has enough money to get some new chairs, especially with 2012 being a top year with enrollments! Last semester was choca-bloc. According to my teacher, the school was out of classrooms and chairs! So…how about giving back to the students? Also, rooms have TVs but its not because you’ll be watching any programs. They use them to play the audio CDs.
I tried to find a photo of the chairs…but this is all I have haha!
Both Seoul and Kyunghee had long desks, which you shared with another student but had plenty of room and much more comfortable chairs.
You will be bloody busy. A term is 10 weeks, in that time there are two exam weeks, week 5 and 10. Exams go over two days and we were taught new material up until the day before exams. To be honest, the terms are too short, we were never able to do all parts of the book and self study was expected. Each level will be different of course, but for levels 3 and 4 which i did, in addition to learning grammar and vocabulary, we also had to write and memories speeches, debates, reports on the news and organize a class production. Level 3 was a short play and level 4 was a radio story. We were also expected to complete homework and complete workbook exercises. Some of you might be thinking about skipping homework or the workbook exercises but i can garauntee, you might just fail your exams if you do so.
Part of the term timetable. As you can see, you do a new lesson every day which includes vocabulary and 2 grammar patterns. Therefore over a week you learn 10 patterns, and uncountable vocab. After a 10 week term?… You’ll be busy 🙂
I would have to give… 3.5 stars.
Although most of my review has been quite negative, it’s a good school, you’ll learn something.. but its no better than others, really. It would have been good if there were more opportunities for us to practice what we learnt instead of so much drilling and squeezing a massive amount of information into 10 weeks. Very lacking in ‘real life’ situations for us to practice Korean, generally very little student talking time in class. I can’t say the teachers are any better than other schools, in fact, I liked my teachers at Seoul Uni and Kyunghee more. The only good thing about Yonsei is its location maybe, close to trendy areas like Hongdae and its on line 2 of the railway map. Kyunghee is a little out near Huegi station on the light blue line i think… and Seoul, although on Line 2 as well, is in the middle of mountains. If you’re a guy, you might be happy to know that Ewha women’s university is next door, too. But if you’re keen on girls, you could enroll in their Korean language school! They do take guys. Do keep in mind that Yonsei is more expensive than some other schools and the Sinchon area is also expensive to live in.
So feel free to ask questions, I’m sure I’ve left something out. The post on Yonsei Global House will be coming soon!