2021 Fall Academics Exams Korea Language Studies Rebekah Harding Temple Exchange

What it’s like taking intensive Korean at Ewha Womans University

Like many students heading to Korea for a study abroad experience, one of my main motivations was to improve my Korean language skills. After studying the language for close to ten years, and placing out of all of Temple’s Korean language courses, I was at a crossroads as to how I should finish the language requirement for my Asian studies major. Should I switch to a different Asian language for my last language credit? Should I drop Asian studies altogether?

Luckily, Temple’s Ewha exchange program caught my eye due to its robust Korean language program. At Ewha, you have the opportunity to take 3-credit practical Korean or 6-credit intensive academic Korean. Since the academic courses are offered all the way up to business-level, or TOPIK level 5, I opted for the 6-credit intensive option. 

And they weren’t kidding when they said “intensive.”

All levels of the academic Korean course are offered right at 8 am and last for three consecutive hours, every day Monday through Thursday. As if the material and length of each class period weren’t hard enough, jumping right into learning a second language in the morning makes the experience even more grueling. This scheduling is consistent with past semesters, so if you’re considering the intensive Korean course, definitely consider how motivated you are. 

One aspect I enjoy about the class is that the skills we work on are divided between the days. On the first day of a new chapter, we learn three new grammar points and practice them together. The next day, we focus on speaking and are paired with a partner to work on discussing a prompt (this is probably my favorite day of the week). Then comes the hardest day: listening and debate. On listening and debate day, we are put into groups and have to argue amongst ourselves about the topic of a recording that follows the theme of our chapter. Then, we have to reenact our debate for the class. Honestly, it’s sometimes embarrassing to have your classmates argue with you, especially when you’re under pressure to come up with a quick rebuttal. Finally, we practice writing, which is usually the calmest day of class. This class structure makes it much easier to prepare for class ahead of time since we always know what to expect. 

The homework is also no joke. Like our classes, our assignments are split between the four skills. If you opt for the intensive class, you can expect to have between three to five hours of homework each week in addition to your other classes. 

Notes from our TOPIK 4 writing skills class

Despite the intensity of the course, the professors are extremely understanding when we all show up to class sleep-deprived and help us ease into the lesson each morning. On the off chance that you miss class, you can also expect your professor to call you to see why you didn’t show up (so you better have a good reason before you skip). While this might be intimidating to some students, I actually really appreciate how caring the professors are towards each individual student.

Ultimately, even though this is one of the hardest and more immersive classes I’ve ever taken, I can say with one hundred percent certainty that your Korean skills will drastically improve while taking this course. If you’re motivated and don’t mind waking up early, take the leap and sign up for intensive Korean. You won’t regret it. 

Learn more about what academic offerings are available to Ewha exchange students. 

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