Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Chung-Ang University (CAU) Korean Language Program Review

Chung-Ang University (CAU) (

Perhaps not as popular as the Korean Language Courses on offer from the universities in Sinchon, Chung-Ang University’s Korean Language Course offers a structured and thorough learning program for a cheaper price, with good exposure to various Korean cultural activities throughout the semester.

Located in Heukseok, a neighbourhood of Dongjak, CAU is within 5 minutes walking distance from Heukseok Station on Line 9. Notable landmarks include Soongshil University to the south, and the Seoul National Cemetery to the east.

What foreigners say: The curriculum places more of an emphasis on grammar and writing than speaking, but there are so many opportunities to speak outside of class and the university also encourages student participation in various university groups or clubs (동아리).

Cost: 1,300,000 KRW per semester (textbooks not included). Classes are held in the mornings (9am to 1pm) for Levels 1-2, with afternoon classes (1pm to 5pm) for Levels 3 and above.

Living in Heukseok-dong close to CAU is a popular option for students, however the shortage of accommodation in the area surrounding the university means you would need to get in quick weeks before the semester begins. However, the surrounding areas such as Noryangjin, Sangdo and Nodeul are a good alternative and have a large amount of buses that service CAU. (There is even a free shuttle bus exclusively for CAU students that runs to and from Noryangjin Station to CAU campus via Sangdo every 10 minutes).

Bongcheon-dong and other areas surround Seoul National University Station (서울대역) also provides a convenient living alternative.(See SNU Review)

Heukseok is by no means party central and although there are many restaurants and cafes around the uni, there are only a few bars which means that you won’t have to put up with loud, thumping music or drunken partygoers when you’re trying to sleep. However the area is notorious for its traffic congestion (especially in the morning) and is often a common complaint among students and residents.

Property around Heukseok is mainly limited to villas or one-room accommodation with prices averaging around 500,000KRW/Month with 5,000,000 Key money.

Living on campus dormitories was until recently offered only to students attending the university itself, but this has now opened to included students who are only taking the Korean language program. Dormitory fees are about 2,600,000KRW per year, however during semester breaks you will be required to pay an additional fee.  

Student Body: 
The great thing about studying at Chung-Ang was the fact that I was practically the only western student not just in my class, but within the entire Korean language program. (There was one French student in my class). This meant I was a bit of a novelty on campus and provided me with many opportunities to network and create friends with the Korean students.

CAU Language Program primarily caters to Chinese students and I would say at least 90% of students in the language program were Chinese. The course textbooks have a Chinese translation and explanations, however the English version has to be obtained on request from the International Education office. In my class of about 20 students, there were 16 Chinese, 1 French, 1 Mongolian, 1 Japanese and 1 Australian (myself). 

The campus is designed to fit in well with its natural surrounding and offers many places to sit under a tree with your friends after class (There is even a small man-made lake with a dragon water fountain) The atmosphere is what you’d expect for a university, if you’re looking for a party atmosphere you’d be better off going to Hongdae Uni or Yonsei. Staff are professional and very helpful and will go to extra lengths to help you assimilate into university life, even offering a buddy program that partners you up with a Korean student at the university, which is a great opportunity to make new friends and practice your speaking.

Culture / Job Opportunities:
In terms of networking, the university really pushes the동아리 clubs and societies and by joining up to a few of these you will no doubt make a large amount of Korean friends and networks. CAU is renowned for its drama, media and film faculties and there are always students looking for foreigners to act as an extra or model for their photo shoots.

My Verdict:

      4/5 Sojus

The language course itself is pretty standard compared to other universities, however the extra-curricular cultural activities are a great way to balance the content with culture. The lack of English speaking students means you will be put in the deep-end and made to speak Korean with other students, but if you want to learn the language it really is the best way to do it. This will also open up more opportunities to network and participate in activities that in other universities you may not have the chance to do.

As I said before if you’re looking for a university with a big party scene you’d be better off looking in Sinchon. However, if your goal is to focus on learning Korean, Chung-Ang University is a great choice. The fact that is some 300,000 KRW cheaper and provides a more unique experience I have bumped it up from 3 to 4 sojus.


  1. Hi there, i've been following your posts for a week or so now and i've mostly been reading the korean language program posts on different unis. I'm planning on going over there and study korean in the summer months (after i've saved enough money and stuff), i just wanted to say thanks for making these posts. They've given me an insight on what's the different course like.
    I've also got a couple of questions, which uni korean courses did you attend and which one/s were the best and why?
    Also, wha'ts the speed of progress like for each term? Did you have to do a lot of h/w or self study after class in order to maintain/meet the the standard of the class and if you didn't would you get kicked out?
    I've realised this is more than a couple of questions. Sorry, i lied :X

    1. I attended both Yonsei and SNU; with a brief stint at Kyunghee.

      I enjoyed both but at differing times in my life and language progression. After 3 terms at Yonsei I was kind of over the large student body, party scene and living in the area. Also you find that at the larger schools there is a bigger exodus of students so many friends may leave at 3-6-9-12 months which gets tiresome if you are not really into doing a groundhog day for each new term.

      When things got more serious at levels 4.5.6 I made the move to SNU and developed some really strong friendships, a bond to the local area (Goshichon) and it provided better surroundings for a slightly older, more "focused" student.

      Progress in terms of the school curriculum is generally fast - new grammar structures are taught weekly early on and in levels 1 - 4 some students can feel a little overwhelmed.

      Some people just really struggle with learning languages and also have less motivation to learn, whether for cultural, personal or work reasons.

      That said I rarely studied or did the HW assignments during my time rather I was very active in class. Teachers will always prefer the active participant over the quiet homework-doer.

      incomplete homework from memory will affect your grade a little but not enough to stop progression. Korea's system is tailored towards end year tests which will be where the bulk of your grade is evaluated.

      Just be aware that they usually expect a 80% attendance rate - this actually stopped me from officially finishing level 6! I missed half the classes because of interning but still passed the tests. If you do find that you have not met the attendance expectations but still passed the exam then sometimes they will still let you progress to the next level; or alternatively you can switch schools if they still don't let you progress. I think it was 20 hours from 200 that you can be absent.I remember a few of us counted those hours as if they were like using personal leave from a job; over 15 minutes late in the morning equals and hour absent so be careful! you will no doubt need a few hours here and there for sick days/ hangover days/ and ofcourse the "I just cant be fucked" days.

  2. Hi, would like to ask if you would prefer Kyunghee or chungang uni for summer exchange program? am having difficulties choosing which uni to attend. (:
    thank you for your help ^^

    1. Thanks for your comment, I will be loading up a Kyunghee University Review soon on, so hopefully that will help you make your decision!

  3. hello! thank you for your reply! but based on ur exp, which would u advise ppl to go to? ^^