Friday, 19 September 2014

Sogang University Korean Language Program Review

Sogang University (https://klec.sogang.ac.kr)



Sogang is also a very well reputed Korean language course located in the Sinchon area, literally a 15 minute walk from the Yonsei front gates.

What foreigners say: Known and recommended by all as the university with the best program for those who want to learn how to "speak" the language. Courses slightly more emphasized towards speaking and practicing during classes. It has become a favourite for American soldiers who are required to take classes. But as I've stated previously you shouldn't be relying on a language program for your Korean language practice!

Cost: Quoted as 1,620,000 KRW/Term for the regular classes in the morning for 2014 (200 hour course over 10weeks)

Living:See the explanation for Yonsei. They are both located in the Sinchon / Hongdae area.

located in the Sinchon / Hongdae area in Eastern Seoul. famous for it's lively night life and array of interesting coffee shops, bars, restaurants and shopping. The epicenter of youth life in the city and a great place for those who want to party as much as they study and expose themselves to the infamous night life of Korea. That said while it may be fun to visit these areas occasionally, living in them isn't for everybody. That means walking home and passing bar after bar and the occasional drunk. Also means there will be occasional couples fighting or general drunk loudness nearby your officetel / hasukjip or dormitory. It also means that you will be sharing your experience with a large proportion of other foreign students (something I know some people would rather avoid). Living in this area is also on the more expensive side especially for a one room studio. Expect to get a lot less for more with average one room prices around 500,000KRW/Month with a 5,000,000KRW Key Money or More. Hauskjips and Dormitories will cost less but provide fairly small rooms with communal services (Not great if you plan on entertaining!!)

Student Body: Is known to have more Americans and Europeans because of it's emphasis on speaking however current students studying at Sogang have said 70 - 80 % of students are Japanese / Chinese.

Atmosphere: Similar vibe and atmosphere to Yonsei in the general area / suburb but as it is not as large as the Yonsei program it loses a bit of that excitement. Smaller class sizes and smaller student body make it a more of a community - you are bound to recognize everyone after 6 months.

Culture / Job Opportunities: Not as well informed when it comes to job opportunities or cultural activities but it is good for networking with other students because of the smaller community approach.

My Verdict:

      4/5 Sojus


I am skeptical of the benefits of a program that is known for its emphasis on speaking. I feel as all programs are more or the less the same and considering this is in the same region as Yonsei you may as well pay a few more bucks to be exposed to a greater amount of students and networks. That said, If you do feel that speaking will be a weak point for yourself and you might not have the confidence to go out and make friends then this program would be the better choice. If you are an older professional that needs basic Korean skills in a short time then Sogang is a good option to avoid the "part time" for fun learner crowd.

User Reviews:
Please add your own reviews in the comment section addressing the following criteria

Living
Student Body
Curriculum
Atmosphere
Opportunities
Soju Rating.

Thanks!

14 comments:

  1. Just posting again as requested haha.

    Living: you've pretty much covered Shinchon. I lived in different areas of Seoul and still prefer/am most comfortable in this neighborhood.
    Student Body: half Japanese, of which 98% are female (can be a good or bad thing). My class was the same, but the others were quite diverse (Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai, Turkish, Canadian, US) and you'd occasionally see someone really exotic. All the Russian girls seemed to be in level 6. But let's not discuss them..
    Curriculum: quite good. Textbook based, but with enough scope to keep things challenging. The fact that my level went from high 3 to low 6 in 2.5 months speaks for the effectiveness of the program.
    Atmosphere: very social. small enough so that everyone seemed to know everyone else after a relatively short time.
    Opportunities: few. None of the broadcasting presence like Yonsei. Felt very cut-off from Sogang Uni itself. The only thing remotely resembling 'exchange' was that of language between the foreigners and Korean students, but even that was unpopular due to complaints that the Koreans had been more interesting in speaking English only and providing little opportunity for the students of Korean language to practice. I found it much easier to establish friendships with the normal folk in and around Shinchon rather than the TOEIC-obsessed Sogangers.
    Soju Rating.
    4.5 (I dropped half a bottle in my drunken stupor). The only qualm I had was that it took the whole semester for my class mates to become comfortable with each other. It would have been good also if the institute had offered more extra-curricular or cultural programs for better immersion into the society and a chance for everyone to mingle better.. but they probably do that now (cooking classes etc.). Overall it was a very positive experience.

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    Replies
    1. What do you mean "broadcasting presence" at yonsei?

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  2. I would wholeheartedly recommend Sogang. The teachers are very very good, the textbooks are better than Yonsei's and SNU's (at least in the 2007-2009 era), and my experience of hanging out with Sogang students was a lot better than Mike's. (Was able to join a club in my area of interest as a guest member and make many friends.) If you are a college student or freshly out of college, it is a very good atmosphere.

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  3. Also you can easily live in a quieter area if desired on Line 2 (e.g. Wansimni) or Line 6 as Daegheung St is very close to the language school. Would also point out that the area there are some areas directly across the streets from campus (in the NON-Sinchon directions) that are significantly quieter than the Sinchon area itself, and do have some hasuks and onerooms.

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  4. After attending Yonsei University for two semesters and being incredibly disappointed with the program and having switched to Sogang University; I whole heartedly recommend Sogang!!!!

    At Yonsei you will focus more on grammar. However, though my teachers have been lovely the course itself is not organized well. Essentially you will be in a room for four hours where your teacher writes a bunch of grammar points on the board, you'll go around the room once or twice having the teacher ask you a question and you respond with the answer. You'll learn two new grammar points every day like this. Everything will be in Korean with the idea that the textbook is in English and you can get the explanation from there. However, the English is really inaccurate (the Japanese and Chinese are much more accurate), like incredibly inaccurate. Yonsei realizes this and they are working to update their materials, however that doesn't help with the current courses. Every day I go home and use other books (I recommend Korean Grammar In Use) to learn the material I am supposed to be taught at Yonsei. As for speaking, out of the 20 classroom hours a week, from the questions your teacher asks you and the occasional partner activities you get about 1 1/2 hours of speaking (does not include the time spent reading paragraphs out loud). It's been consistent both semesters and I've talked to students in higher levels. There is almost a 100% consensus among Yonsei students that Yonsei must add more speaking into their curriculum. The reason that this hasn't been the focus is because the TOPIC exam does not test speaking and Yonsei's focus is to prepare students for this exam.

    Sogang is very different and ever so awesome. The emphasis is definitely on speaking and of the 20 classroom hours a week you literally spend 10 hours speaking, except I've found that it's even more. Hands down Sogang students speak the best out of any Korean language program. The teachers are really good too. However, instead of spending most of the time writing on the board and having student's copy examples. At Sogang you have tons of games and activities that you use to practice a concept or idea (so far all of these are speaking activities but I only have one term so we'll see what the future holds). It's so much more effective for retaining vocabulary and grammar points. Yonsei is all about rote memorization. That definitely has to happen when learning a language but it is so helpful to interact with the thoughts, ideas, and concepts. They stick better and are easier to apply.

    Also, my Sogang classmates are really happy with the program; myself and my Yonsei classmates were really frustrated with how we were being taught Korean. I wish I would've know all this before I chose Yonsei. Before you make your decision you should talk to someone who has recently taken the courses to get the most accurate picture.

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  5. I would recommend Sogang over Yonsei. I went to Sogang in 2012 and now to my home country I'm forced to use books from Yonsei.
    These are not well organised, try to cover a large vocabulary and too many grammar points. If you don't already speak Chinese or Japanese, you will forget a lot.

    The Sogang program helps you build long-term skills. Speaking helps sticking new words and grammar patterns into your brain. The books cover less, but you will remember more.

    I also found the themes and dialogues covered by Sogang more interesting and useful.

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  6. Well some seemed to have a good experience, however, my experience was quiet the contrary.

    I had 3 women teachers who seemed miserable, insecure, and narcissistic. For example, one teacher suggested on a number of occasions to make an introduction for a possible future mate. Another kept saying how "pretty" she was, which I guess it was funny if it was a joke. Another teacher was 5 foot who seemed nice but was annoying (e.g., she taught preparation for the exams as competition).

    Also, the student coordinator who is suppose to help the foreign students stands 5 foot; and so, that should explain various complexes associated with that. And whenever I did talk to her she seemed to acknowledge the concerns but meanwhile, nothing was ever done. In other words, it’s about maintaining status quo more so than improving.

    When I talked to other foreign students on why it was taught they way it was instead of teaching more at a normal speed, they told me to don’t bother talking to the coordinator because it won’t change. This other student worked at the embassy and she said, she didn’t care about being there, which indicated that it was a demoralizing experience for her ( i.e., there’s nothing worse when a student says they don’t care).

    The textbook was based around boy meets girl simulations. I suppose, that works if one’s mental capacity is that of a 15 year old. On the other hand, I guess, they thought it’s a theme to introduce beginners to the language. However, there are other subject matters which could have also introduced the culture as well as the language.

    Furthermore, most people who did well in the course either studied in advance or are already fluent in East Asian languages, which makes it easier.

    Therefore, the program is designed for people who already studied the Korean language to some degree Or if they don't mind taking the course again for another 1,600 won since Westerns who didn’t study in advance will not pass the 1st time.

    Alternatively, one could study with a private tutor in a much more enjoyable environment and up the learning curve faster, but many apply for the visa.

    Either that or the curriculum needs to be updated for people (e.g., Westerns) who are beginners at the language and do not necessarily want to learn like hamsters on wheel. On the other hand, if they themselves learn that way, there’s not much that can be done in terms of incorporating innovative processes of learning new languages.

    Anyhow, I managed to pass with a B or so, but in the end, it makes me not want to learn the language because of this experience.

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    Replies
    1. This is the Sogang experience. I can't compare it with Yonsei because I haven't studied there.

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  11. I've heard so much about the Top 3 (especially Sogang & Yonsei). I was considering Sogang at first and I tried applying online. After which, I had faced some issues and contacted Sogang's admin. I sent them email after email to ask for some assistance on the types of documents that I was required to send. However, no reply AT ALL! Then , I decided to call them up directly for some help. The 1st guy I spoke to was rude! I couldn't speak Korean so I used English to speak to them.. he then brushed me off aside. I even thanked him for the help but he just hung up on me. After which, I faced another problem with the uploading of documents online, I called them up again and it was another guy. I spoke in Korean this time round, hoping the service would be better. I asked if he could speak English in Korean and he said yes. Then I explained my situation.. all I could hear was his frustration of voice as he helped me on the phone. I swore there was once I heard him screaming, "No!". I apologised for the trouble I caused him, then he kept saying.. 'Oh my god... oh my god..' and he was complaining to his colleague behind the phone. After assistance, I then thanked him but he said.. okay bye in a rude way.
    I mean I was so looking forward to studying at Sogang but after these incidents, I decided to consider Yonsei or Ewha.
    Sogang may be good but if I have to endure such treatment.. and mind you.. you may get such treatment when you enter the school.. I'd rather not go to Sogang.
    I am truly disappointed in Sogang's admin staff due to their lack of efficiency and respect for their customers.

    ReplyDelete