As an adoptee from Korea or as anyone who might be interested in learning Korean for whatever reason Korea has many language programs all over the country. Although many of the programs are found at universities in Seoul, you can also check out other cities such as Busan for formal language learning opportunities. Programs here are generally about 10 weeks long and will include about 4 hours of class time per day. Each program varies from school to school so be sure to do proper research on each university’s program prior to making your decision. Of course at any program you can expect to learn Korean, some programs focus more on conversational Korean, while others focus on reading and writing. Be forewarned, the program type and focus can make a big difference. Some names to consider and checkout in Seoul include Yonsei, Kyunghee University, Sook Myung University, Sogang University, and Ewha University. If none of those names sound familiar, don’t worry. I will post more information about the universities later.
For anyone who is interested in learning Korean here in Korea I would highly encourage you to look into all of these programs as possible options. I found out the hard way that if any part of you wants to learn Korean, that desire isn’t something that just goes away on its own. I spent time focusing on learning French instead of Korean because I was not sure how much I would use Korean in my life and that decision only delayed my Korean studies for a few years (Anyone who knows me can tell you that despite taking the time to learn French I still can’t speak it). Obviously travelling in Korea becomes easier the more Korean you know, but more than that learning Korean can be an invaluable asset when trying to pursue such endeavors as locating family members, meeting Korean friends, and avoiding the common awkward yet mildly humorous conversation with Korean taxi drivers or restaurant owners. Remember, even if you don’t feel Korean, you look the part and so people will have the expectation that you speak Korean. This little caveat shouldn’t deter you from coming to Korea but it is something that you should know before coming here. Currently there are many adoptees and foreign born Koreans who are in Korea for a wide variety of reasons, many of whom do not speak Korean or are currently in the process of learning Korean so you are not alone. That being said, I believe it is in the case in any country, when you take the time to use someone’s native language it shows respect to that person and their culture. After all, when travelling in another country why should anyone be so arrogant as to assume that everyone else will speak the same language? A little effort goes a long way.
Additionally, when considering whether or not you should take part in a language program that will bring you to a foreign country for a few months or longer costs are sure to be in the forefront of your mind. Costs of each program vary between universities but in general, tuition is around 1000 to 1600 USD. This does not usually include room and board which again varies, but is generally speaking around 500 USD a month. While for some this costs may seem daunting, there are MANY scholarships out there for adoptees trying to learn and study Korean in Korea. Holt International, InKas, and G.O.A.L. are all organizations that help with post adoption services and offer various scholarships to adoptees. These scholarships usually cover about 50% of tuition costs but some programs such as the Holt Homecoming Program cover all of the tuition and room and board costs for up to two quarters (20 weeks). I will post a separate article about each of these organizations and the scholarships that they offer as to not take up even more space here.
In short my advice is this: If you’re interested in coming to Korea to learn the language and you have the time and resources, don’t wait. Give your self a chance to have a new experience in a foreign country while you can. Is it for everyone? No, but if you think you might like it, do yourself a favor and look into it. ALSO, get all of the necessary documents ready and apply early. For many scholarships you will need to have an apostilled criminal background check performed by the FBI. These checks can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks, and they will take the full amount of time to be processed and mailed back to you.
If you have any questions feel free to leave a reply to this post and I will try to answer them in a timely manner as best as I can.