On the first day of the summer session, I was completely surprised by the pace of the class. From the textbooks, lectures, and even amongst the teachers, there was no English explanation to be found. At George Washington University the language classes are to a large extent taught in Korean, but there also exists a reliable English crutch for clarification. Yet even in KLEC’s Introductory Level 1, where students presumably have had no prior exposure to the language, classes are taught entirely in Korean! There are definite benefits to this strict “Korean Only” policy as it forces students train their ear and speech, but in the first few weeks I felt completely overwhelmed.
|On the left are the textbooks used during ten weeks at KLEC.|
The book to the right spans almost a year's worth of study in the United States.
As I began to acclimate to my new life in Seoul, the students in my class were the kindest people who came to truly define my experience in this city. Despite our diverse backgrounds and ages, the fact that we were all studying in South Korea reflected a shared passion amongst us for the country and its culture. Applying one’s knowledge of Korean outside of the classroom extends only so far, especially given the lack of both time and patience for strangers to aid you. Yet in the comfort of a class group, we could support each other whilst stumbling through the language. Although most of the students had studied together since Level 1, my entire class was extremely welcoming and became my greatest aid through the informal review sessions we created for those new to the program.
|The class celebrating having successfully ordered, over the phone, pizza to be delivered!|
|Seoul National University's Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies|