Sogang international students give its programs mixed marksWhat do students say about Sogang’s Korean langauge courses for regularly enrolled students?
“The teaching method at Sogang is different from that of other schools,” said Nikica Doresic, a Croatian student. “The courses are student-centered. The classroom atmosphere is also very light, not stressful, unlike another school I previously attended.” Speaking in Korean, he added that he has many chances to speak Korean during and after class.
Mr. Doresic came to Korea in 2004 and is now taking level four Korean class at Sogang University’s Korean Language Education Center. He said he first got interested in Korea because of his ex-girlfriend, and wanted to learn the language. He previously studied at Yonsei University for two semesters and Ewha Womans University for a semester.
At the Korean Language Education Center, about 300 students from 32 nations are attending full-time programs in the summer term.
Mark Siegmund, from Germany, also gave high marks to the teaching method at Sogang. Now in level six, Mr. Siegmund said the textbooks are more fun, interesting and modern than those used in other schools. He said he is married to a Korean and has lived here for two years.
“The teachers are very interested in students and their level. Also, the small number of students in classes is good,” Mr. Siegmund said. “But I wish there was a kind of global lounge where Korean-language learners could meet a lot of Korean students. At the moment, if you want to meet students you have to join a club.”
Mr. Doresic agreed on the necessity of such a facility. “To meet Korean students, I go to the student cafeteria,” he said. “I just talk to them in the cafeteria. It’s easier than just talking to someone on the street.
“I want to work in political or diplomatic relations, but something related to Korea,” Mr. Doresic said. “At the moment, there isn’t a Croatian embassy in Korea.”
There is also a three-week program for university students from Hong Kong.
“Even [having finished the program], I don’t completely understand what Koreans say when they speak rapidly, but I can at least catch key words,” said Jill Chan, 23, who was in Seoul for Sogang’s special three-week program for students at City University in Hong Kong. Though the program is very short, “It’s better to study the language in Korea, because there’re chances to learn what Koreans say in real life. You know, like slang,” she added. “In Hong Kong, the school focuses more on writing, and there was a lack of interaction in class.”
Anna Cheung, 23, another student from the City University of Hong Kong, agreed. “Here, Koreans force us to speak with them in Korean,” she said, which she added helped her Korean improve. Both she and Ms. Chan said that the Sogang students who volunteered to help the 20 students from Hong Kong had been very helpful. The Korean students not only took them around Seoul but also taught them up-to-date colloquialisms such as eoljjang (someone who’s good looking) and assa (Oh, yeah!).
The best part of the program, the two women said, was the opportunities to learn things outside the classroom, especially the field trips that take place before classes in the morning, in afternoons and on weekends.
“I expected that the three-week program would be very academic and we would just be sitting in the classroom,” Ms. Chan said. In fact, the program includes sightseeing excursions around Seoul, and chances to dress up in traditional Korean garb, or hanbok, and to play the buk, a Korean drum.
Ms. Cheung said that the trip to the Daejanggeum theme park in Yangju, Gyeonggi province ― where the hit TV show “Daejanggeum” (“Jewel in the Palace”)was filmed ― was one of the highlights.
“It was interesting to see the sets of the soap opera, and it felt just like we were acting in the show,” she said. “Also it was interesting to look at how Korean dining tables were set in old houses.”
Amid all the praise, however, the students did have some misgivings. Ms. Cheung said that some of what she learned in Sogang she had already learned in Hong Kong. In addition, Ms. Chan said it would be better if the field trips were held in the afternoon, as it affords more chances to talk with Korean students after the trip over dinner.
by Park Sung-ha