I have been asked this quite a bit so I thought maybe I should write a post on the topic (:
My learning journey:
I started out with NUS Extension, completed all levels for Beginners and took a break for a year.
Am currently with Ganada Korean Language Centre (cousin introduced it to me).
Taking my Intermediate classes and TOPIK preparation classes there now.
Textbook: Kyunghee University
I got a really strong foundation in reading and recognising words here. You get a textbook, a workbook + worksheets (depending on your teacher). There are 2 sets of books for the beginner levels and it takes about 3 levels to complete one set of books.
The pace in NUS Extension is really fast cos the teachers have to complete a lot of things within the 8-10 lessons. Classes are big (at least 7-10 to start a new one) so the amount of attention you get might not be enough. For a really structured learning experience, I would recommend this.
Textbook-wise…It can be a little dry and confusing. You will learn both formal and informal language at the same time. Sometimes a super formal language will pop in too. The vocabulary and grammar is somewhat unrelated too. Found it quite hard to relate or memorise. After the first few chapters, the textbook will be entirely in Korean which can be overwhelming for beginners. I had to translate the entire page before I knew what I was supposed to do for homework last time.
Teachers there are Koreans (I know this is important to some of you).
Introduction to the Korean structure is built into the curriculum. So I was introduced to Korean food and traditional games.
Seems like NUS Extension has recently made an announcement that they are closing their language courses. The teachers have now opened a new school called, “i.Speak KLC” that uses Active Korean textbook as well (:
Ganada Korean Language Centre
Textbook: Seoul University
I took a placement test when I joined the class. I think I did quite badly for the placement test 😛 But the principal was rather nice and insisted that I continued with Intermediate instead of starting with Beginner Level 4 (which I wanted).
Learning is fun at Ganada! Each level completes about 4-5 chapters of the Seoul University textbook. The pace is slower and more reasonable (:
Classes at Ganada is a lot smaller (at least 5 to start a class) and more personable. The teachers are Koreans who has a strong command of English. Some even know a bit of Chinese (which can help!).
Textbook-wise…I really like the textbook! It’s very well structured. You start learning the informal form first (much easier!) before gradually proceeding to the formal and even Banmal! The textbook is well-organised too. Chapters are grouped by activities (e.g. interview, out of order, shopping) and you learn the vocabulary/grammar related to these activities. There’s English translation for most of the content which is awesome! I will usually read the words in Korean and try to see if my understanding was correct.
I saw the principal cutting out some Korean money and bringing out the Seoul Subway map once. Think those are for the beginner classes. Interesting!
My teacher is awesome. She makes learning less stressful and I am slightly more okay with making mistakes when I am with her. So I try to speak more (:
Korean Lanaguage School
Textbook: Yonsei (I think, but there are reviews that say it uses Kyunghee too)
I did consider going to the “official” Korean language school but it was too far!
My colleague is currently having her classes there and I think she quite like it (: Classes are semester based. So if you missed one intake, you will have to patiently wait for the next semester to roll by.
I have some classmates who were from KLS previously. They speak really fluent Korean and their foundation seems rather strong. However, I overheard that the textbook was crap cos the structure is bad.
Also understand that classes are conducted 90% in Korean. So you either buck up and catch up or get lost in translation.
The school organises several Korean activities too. And is the place administering the TOPIK exam.
Would recommend it if you like to be plunged into the deep end to learn. I’m not 😛
Talk to Me in Korean
This was where I started before even heading to NUS Extension. The lessons are really interactive and fun (:
So if you want to “stress test” your interest in the Korean Language, you can go to the site and listen to their lessons. They are FREE! But you can also choose to buy the lessons in bulk.
They have video lessons that touch on common drama phrases, the latest lingo and stuff. Really fun! (:
So that’s it from me! Hope this helps. Otherwise, do drop me a note!