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Wednesday,January 20,2021
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Korean Education Center, the Treasure of DonggukKorean Education Center is the representative of Dongguk for international students

A student from United States came to Dongguk as an exchange student without learning Korean since there was no one to teach him Korean when he was in the United States. He was searching for an opportunity to learn Korean and found out that Dongguk provides Korean education for international students. After looking for several different institutions that teach Korean, he decided that he would be better off studying in the school.


Center for Korean Language Education of Dongguk divides classes into six levels; reading and writing Korean consonants and vowels, making sentences using various conjunctions, expressing own opinions about private and familiar social subjects orally as well in paragraphs, understanding and properly using the basic differences and characteristics of formality / non-formality and literary / colloquial style and etc. Plus, the school provides cultural activities once a semester.


 Each class only accepts a maximum of 12 students. The students can participate in different programs that the school provides such as an enrichment class that teaches how to read classics. There is a TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) class for those who are preparing for the test. The textbooks used in class are designed and published by the school independently. The textbooks are made for each level in the center and continuously publish revised edition once a year or two. Those who teach foreign students are professionals, having earned master’s degrees in Korean education for international students.


There are many positive aspects of the Korean Language Center, but it has not reached perfection yet. The homepage of Center for Korean Language Education is not managed well enough. Several pages for special courses and liberal art courses etc. are not available on the website. Such errors appear very often, which cause inconvenience for students when they want to find out more about these courses. This situation is inexcusable considering that most students these days find information via internet. Moreover, school announcements or the center’s notification are only written in Korean and not provided in other languages.


The limitation of programs is another point to be motified. Although the level of Korean teaching is well divided, experience outside the campus is in short. There are few opportunities for students to experience Korean culture or go sightseeing. However, some students expect more special experiences in Korea. Elena, an exchange student, said that sightseeing and other cultural events should be offered independently, which would give the students greater freedom. “Learning more about Korean slang or drinking and clubbing culture would be more fun and memorable for us. A broader and more unique experience is what I want to gain from my time in South Korea and at Dongguk. Maybe a temple stay tour can be fun,” she added.

   
 
  Students  are  participating  in  the  Korean  education  lecture  eagerly.  Although there  were  hard  times  when  studying  Korean,  they  continued  to  strive  hard  since  there  were  much  support  both  from  the  school  and  teachers. / Photograph by  Ro Chang-hun  
 

  The leveling and progression of classes are well set-up, but there are some aspects that could be improved. There was an argument  that they came to the center to learn Korean, not to experience the Korean education system. Would it not not be better to add new beginners’ class for those who have no preliminary knowledge of Korean?
How can Dongguk improve the Center for Korean Language Education? There are several factors of the program that can be measured against other universities in Korea including Kyung Hee, Korea and Yonsei University. To begin with, there are less errors in other schools’ websites. This might be severe problem that Dongguk can face in the future since such errors will be accumulated and result in critical complaints of foreigners. Also, the programs that the school offers could be organized better, which can become more accessible to foreign students.


Other universities also provide basic principles such as level classifications and additionally offer a variety of specialized courses, to meet the diverse needs of students. Korea University offers special programs for Japanese students, the Korea Flagship Overseas Program (KFOP) and Advanced Korean Classes. For Japanese students, Korea University offers special field trips and extracurricular activities because most of the students visiting Korea and eager to learn Korean are Japanese students. Moreover, they can study specific aspects of language and culture that they are interested in, such as K-pop, pronunciation and etc.

 KFOP is a special program developed by government of the United States to train Korean language specialists to a superior level on the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) from The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL). This program includes the Korea Flagship Program held at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM KFP). Yonsei University   provides a University Korean Program and a Request Program.  The University Korean Program offers Korean language education that would be helpful in preparing for life at universities in Korea. For intance, the enhancement of overall Korean speaking ability will enrich their friendship. Plus, the programs offer educational support to enter universities in Korea as well. The Request Program is held not only at Yonsei, but also at Korea University. The program teaches foreigners from external agencies such as private companies and foreign organizations.


The purpose of Korean education center is not only for teaching a language, but also for foreigners who have a passion to learn about the Korean culture. Therefore, when such a center is not maintained properly, the school’s image will decrease drastically and result in bad reputation. The Center for Korean Language Education of Dongguk is well maintained, but some deficiencies definitely exist. Benchmarking better Center’s programs from other universities will provide Dongguk a brighter future for both the school and student.

 

Ro, Chang-hun  kazimiar@dongguk.edu

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