Wow, has it really been a year since my last post? I really thought I’d be able to update with all my experiences whilst in Korea, but I just couldn’t afford the time to. Yonsei KLI’s Regular Program was really intensive! I also got really busy when I came home, hence the quietness.
A couple of weeks ago, I got an email asking me about KLI, and since I’ve been getting similar questions, I thought I’d just put them into a list for easy reference. Any future questions will also be added here. Please check if your question has been answered before asking.
- Did you self-study Korean before attending KLI?
Yes, on-and-off for a couple of years through various mediums; I also got Level 3 in the 26th TOPIK held in April 2012.
- Why did you choose KLI?
After doing some research, it seems like KLI was the first school to provide Korean language classes to foreigners and they have the best record or something, so I just decided to go with it. After all, if I’m going all the way to Korea, I might as well go to the cream of the crop even if it’s the most expensive.
If you didn’t already know, KLI focuses mainly on academic rather than colloquial Korean, so if you’re looking to focus on speaking, Sogang University KLEC would be a better choice since it’s known for that. I’m not sure about the other schools, you’ll have to do your own research.
- Which level were you placed in?
Long story short, I started from Level 4.
Placement tests only apply to those who have previous knowledge of Korean.
- What should I expect for the placement test?
For the written paper, it has about 6(?) pages of grammar and vocabulary questions. It goes from really basic Level 1 questions (What is the object pictured? A ball, a pen, a cap, etc.) to difficult Level 6 questions (Write your thoughts and explain on a given topic). Feel free to stop when you feel like you can’t answer them any more.
For the oral section, it’s a one-on-one interview. Like the written paper, the teachers ask questions starting from basic and then moving up if they find that you’re able to answer them. You’d get typical basic ‘where are you from’ to intermediate ‘what tourist attractions would you suggest if I were to visit your country’ to advanced ‘what do you think would happen if there was/were no internet/computers’ questions.
- Does KLI have term breaks?
One term lasts 10 weeks. There are no breaks whatsoever in between. If you’re lucky, there’ll be one or two public holidays.
- What’s the Regular programme like?
As mentioned earlier, there are no breaks in between, so be prepared to be completely immersed in the language for the full 10 weeks. It is intense, and you might not have time to slack, depending on your learning style and speed.
I did not attend the lower levels so I can’t tell you anything about those, but from Level 4 onwards, we had weekly presentations before midterms and final exams. They all add up to the final result, so it would be wise to do well in those.
The four basic areas tested are writing, reading, listening, and speaking. To my knowledge, if you fail in one area, you get to retake it, but if you fail two, you’d have to repeat the entire level. If you still fail after repeating a level twice, you’d not be allow to attend the school anymore. Attendance is also important; missing over 40 hours of class would mean an automatic fail of the level.
- What is the timetable like, and when are the exams?
The timetable is only given out on the first day of every term.
- What is the average age of the students in the programme?
Majority of my classmates in each level (4~6) were around pre-university ages (~17) with a handful in their 20s.
- I have sent my application. When will I receive my admission letter?
From application to admission confirmation, the whole process took slightly over a month for me.
- What visa did you apply for?
D-4 student visa. Other visa related questions are all in this post as well as in the comments. Please read before asking!
- Did you buy any travel or health insurance?
I only bought a student travel insurance that lasts a year.
- Did you rent/buy a phone? What about phone plans?
No, I used my own iPhone 4S. I signed up for an Olleh pre-paid plan with add-on data. They gave me a SIM card suitable for my phone.
- Do you recommend SK Global?
I’ve never stayed in SK Global, and I didn’t research much into it, so I can’t give you any advice on that.
I stayed at a 고시텔 about a 15 minute walk away from KLI. I opted to stay in a 고시텔 because it was not only a cheaper option for me, but I also liked that it was closer to the train station and in the midst of Sinchon, where I could feel its atmosphere. I also became good friends with the Koreans who lived in the same building.
Of course, one might prefer to not have to walk 30 minutes a day going to and from school, or might prefer to sleep in till the very last minute before lessons, or might hate how small the rooms are (bigger = more expensive). For whatever reasons, staying at a 고시원/고시텔 might not be right for everyone. In my case, however, it turned out to be a thankfully good experience overall. I basically just got used to my tiny room. I’ve also always liked walking and with Korea’s awesome weather (not including summer T_T), I could walk anywhere!
Do your research and you’d be able to find the place best suited to your needs. Do prepare yourself for very small (normally one-person) rooms. It might also be good if you have a friend there who can help to check the place out for you beforehand. If you’re looking at 고시원/고시텔 websites, the photos are usually of the more expensive rooms. Always clarify before making any confirmations.
- What were your monthly living expenses like?
I won’t give figures, but the most obvious thing anyone should take note of is that it greatly depends on your lifestyle. I spent most of my time there just studying and chilling in my room so I could save money, and since I lived near school, there was barely any need for me to take the public transport. I don’t think I spent as much as other people did on an average. If you manage your money well, you can go a long way.
- Is it easy to make Korean friends?
I think this is a very subjective question, and depends on individuals.
For me, I don’t think I’ve ever really had any problems making friends. I’m shy around strangers, but once I’m comfortable, I get along pretty well with most people. I was on the internet a lot growing up, and I made several friends from overseas, so when I first got to KLI, I was glad to have even more friends from all over the world. It was also interesting since I got to hang out with them in real life instead of just on the internet.
However, I also had this thought… I came all the way to Korea to learn the language because it puts me in an all native Korean-speaking environment. If I were to constantly hang out with my international friends, it would be just the same as staying in Singapore and practicing Korean with my Korean-speaking Singaporean friends! I didn’t want to be wasting hard earned money and precious time, because unlike most of the other students who were there so they could attend a Korean university, I was there to make Korean my future career. This is serious business! (Lol.)
Like I mentioned before, depending on where you choose to stay, you could also make friends with the Koreans who live in your building.
As I started out learning Korean with TTMIK, I made friends with 현우쌤 (the one who started it all~ lol) online. We first met when 미경언니 and him had a stopover in Singapore after their honeymoon. I then went on holiday to Korea after that, visited the TTMIK office and had dinner with them and a few teachers. …I digress.
Anyway, amongst a gazillion other things, he also founded LanguageCast. I finally went with a friend last year, and I’ll say it’s a good place to start if you want to make Korean friends, but it can get rather noisy since there’s usually a huge crowd. However, do be careful. As it’s not a closed event, there are a few who go there with the purpose of picking up girls.
The bottom line is, language exchange opportunities are everywhere if you’re willing to look. There are language exchange cafes, language exchange groups, etc. Yonsei KLI even has a language exchange program. As long as you put in the effort, I’m sure making Korean friends wouldn’t be a problem.
If you have any other questions that aren’t answered above or in the replies below, feel free to leave a comment.
Other Useful Posts
- SaysChing – She has a more comprehensive KLI guide.