Do you have a weakness for Korean dramas or the K-pop craze? Do you have friends or family who are originally from Korea? Are you looking to spice up your resume and stand out to future employers? Learn how you can study Korean abroad whether you're interested in the language for business, pleasure, or both!
Korean is not the easiest language to learn, but with such a wide variety of programs you can choose the option that works best with your learning style. Said to be the most mathematical language, Korean is fascinating for its similarities and its differences to Chinese, Japanese, and other languages that originated in the East.
Study the language in South Korea to get a full cultural immersion. However, with many Korean communities in nearby countries, there are also opportunities to learn the language from native Korean speakers in China, Japan, Singapore, and more.
Korean language courses range from rigorous to relaxed, short to long, and inexpensive to all-inclusive. If you have a career-specific reason for learning Korean, you might be interested in programs that teach Korean for business or medical professionals. If you want to explore all aspects of the culture, there are programs that include excursions along with classroom instruction.
- University Courses: If you are a current college student and you're considering studying abroad for a summer, semester, or year, then you'll have no problem finding a Korean language course during your time abroad. However, if your goal is to become fluent in Korean, a summer or semester in Korean classes will not be enough to master this language. You could start by enrolling in a few courses at your home university or online, then taking higher-level classes abroad and putting those skills to the test with locals. You can also enroll directly into a Korean university as an international student and earn your entire degree abroad!
- Immersion Programs: For high school students, college students on break, and adults who are looking for an exciting new experience, immersion programs are short-term intensive courses that have specific start dates throughout the year. The most popular time to complete these programs is over the summer. Immersion courses generally include all in-country expenses, but airfare is generally not included in the total cost.
- Language Schools: Maybe you just decided to move to Korea for work or fun and need to learn the language right away. Language schools usually enroll students on a rolling basis year-round. From private tutors to big groups, you'll usually be able to choose the learning style that's best for you.
Why Learn Korean Abroad
The Korean peninsula has long played a relevant role on the world stage, so students interested in diplomacy and politics are well deserved by gaining knowledge of this language. The rising popularity of Korean culture through the music of K-Pop, K-dramas, and Asian fusion restaurants and food trucks that highlight traditional Korean dishes like bulgogi. Korea's wide-ranging influence means businesses and government organizations want employees who are familiar with the Korean language. You might even decide to stay and teach English in Korea after your course ends!
Additionally, Korean is considered a critical language, which means fully-funded scholarships are available for students who study the language abroad. Although learning Korean is known to be challenging, the phonetic Korean writing system makes it easier to remember than the thousands of characters in Chinese and Japanese languages, making it a more accessible critical language to master. Set yourself -- and your resume -- apart from the rest by learning Korean abroad.
There are some Korean language immersion programs available to high school students like LanguBridge, but the most common programs are for current college students. Most scholarships are only available to college students, but with a wide variety of learning programs, you'll have options regardless of your degree program or experience level with the language.
Planning Your Trip
For some, planning international travel is stressful, while for others it's as much fun as the trip itself! No matter where you fit into this scale, hopefully, these tips will make the planning process a smooth one.
Popular Locations to Learn Korean Overseas
If your main goal is full immersion in the Korean language and way of life, South Korea is likely the best choice for learning Korean abroad. South Korea has the greatest variety of programs to choose from, and you're not likely to find Korean language/cultural immersion programs or advanced level instruction outside of South Korea.
You may wonder if you can learn Korean in North Korea. Currently, travel to North Korea is not recommended for travelers from most countries. Additionally, the dialect of Korean spoken in North Korea is different than you will learn in South Korea or other destinations where Korean is taught.
However, if you want to explore other parts of the world while also learning Korean as you go, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, and China are other potential options, especially in the major cities. Many Koreans wind up living in these countries because the languages and cultures share a similar background and they've found a demand for teaching Korean. Hiring a private tutor in these countries is another possibility, and it might not always be as expensive as you'd imagine.
Choosing a Korean Learning Program
If your main concern in choosing a Korean learning program is funding and you're a college student, you can look into scholarships and financial aid options. Some universities have exchange partnerships with international universities, and these are generally the cheapest option for spending a semester abroad.
For non-students, the least expensive way to study Korean abroad will usually be at a language school in a group class. When comparing prices, be aware that some will include housing, meals, and excursions in the total cost. If you aren't comfortable making your own housing arrangements, you might consider paying a little extra for someone else to do it for you.
The best parts about choosing a Korean learning program are deciding where and when you want to go. You can get a feeling of what the program will be like from reading reviews and studying the program websites. Also, ask yourself how you learn best -- in a group or one-on-one? How much time per day do you have to devote to classroom instruction and studying at home? Do you have any previous experience with the language or with other Asian languages?
Costs & Funding
Deciphering program costs can be confusing when the costs are shown in different currencies. Sometimes the total cost is just for tuition, and sometimes it's all-inclusive. In general, trust websites that clearly show what the total cost includes. Particularly when looking at language schools, check for application, book, and registration fees.
Average Language School Tuition
The average cost of learning Korean abroad depends on where you go, how long you'll be there, and what is covered by the cost. For example, a private tutor in South Korea could cost $18 per hour, but you might also be able to find a private native-speaking tutor in China for only $8 per hour.
On average, the total cost of studying abroad at a university in Korea without scholarships or exchange agreements will be between $4,000 to $7,000 per semester, depending on the type of university (public, private, reputation, etc.). If you use a third party provider, this can include everything from flights to food. Whether you earn credit or just go for fun, summer study abroad and immersion programs will be closer to $3,000 for an experience lasting 3-4 weeks. This cost may or may not include airfare.
In Korea, you can find all-inclusive programs at language schools for $600 for one week of intensive study. Tuition-only programs can cost as little as $120 per week. Other countries that offer Korean instruction may not even cost that much. In Singapore, you can find full-time programs for $250 per month.
Scholarship Options for Learning Korean
The Critical Language Scholarship is a fantastic opportunity for current students. No prior familiarity with Korean is required! If you are studying abroad or directly enrolling at a Korean university, you can check with financial aid to see if you qualify for funding. There are many organizations out there that have several scholarships available, particularly for underrepresented students in study abroad. Language schools and immersion programs that do not offer college credit are unlikely to provide scholarships.
Korean Language Programs Abroad
Can you study in Korea without knowing Korean?
Yes. Although directly enrolling at a university will be difficult for those without a foundation of the Korean language, there are many language schools that take all levels of Korean speakers. Many Korean classes at language schools are designed for beginners in mind!
How much does it cost to learn Korean in Korea?
There are different avenues for studying Korean in South Korea: university courses, language schools, and private lessons. Tuition fees vary based on location, the reputation of the school, items included in Korean instruction, and more. However, generally, university courses can range from $1,200 to $1,500 for part-time students. Language school education can start at $500 and be as high as $4,000 per month. Private lessons will be the most expensive option as the fee is set by the tutor, which can range anywhere from $20 to $40+ per hour.