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Korea ranks second on the global education index

Notorious for the amount spent on higher education, Korea reaps the rewards ranking second out of 50 countries by Pearson Education on a new global education index called the Learning Curve.


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The most important thing for you to know is that it is not necessary to learn the language to live in Korea. Most signs are translated into English and the country is becoming ever more foreigner friendly. Unlike in the past a lot of Koreans have a basic grasp of English so if you are stuck you will usually be able to find someone to help you out. A lot of English has been absorbed into Korean, it even has it's own name, called Konglish, so if you are having difficulty try saying an English word with a Korean accent and you may strike it lucky! Learning a few basic phrases will help you get by but if you really want to absorb the culture then of course there is no reason why you shouldn't learn the language.

The Korean language is called Hanguk- oh. It is the only language in Korea and is used by 80 million Korean speakers. The Korean alphabet (Han-gul) was introduced by King Sejong in 1443. Prior to its creation Korea used complex Chinese characters, however this meant that only a small percentage of the population (mainly the upper class) could read and write. The introduction of Hang-gul is one of the main reasons for Korea having a literacy rate of over 95%.Like Korean society the language is highly structured, there are 3 main levels of formality used to show the level of respect between the speakers. For example, Koreans love to talk about food and the way you would ask someone older or more senior 'did you enjoy lunch'? is different to how you would ask a child. This can be quite confusing at first but don't be afraid to make mistakes.

Korean Language

Do I need to know Korean to get by?

How about in the classroom?

How do I learn Korean?

Check out a fun website created by one of our teachers to help you learn Korean

Your lessons will be conducted solely in English and in most hagwons Korean is prohibited. if your school doesn't have a no Korean policy we advise you introduce one into the classroom from the outset. Not only is it the best way for children to pick up English but if they can't speak the language and are prohibited from speaking Korean then they have little choice but to be quiet and listen, well.. Hopefully!

If you do decide to try and learn the language you will be pleased to know that the Korean alphabet (Han-gul) is one of the simplest writing systems in the world. It is so easy to learn that most Korean children can read and write before they enter school. With a couple of hours of studying you will be able to read and write Han-gul. Han-gul is a phonetic alphabet consisting of 10 basic vowels and 14 consonants. Each vowel and consonant is a symbol and the symbols are combined into blocks representing a single syllable. If you wish to learn Korean check out the Sogang Korean Language website, it is a fantastic program that will walk you through the basics and if you follow it though to intermediate level you will find after a year in Korea you can communicate rather well.

Also, check out what's going on in your local city, a lot of the larger cities will have specially designed hagwons or programmes in the universities where you can study Korean for a small fee. You can also find classes connected to local churches or youth centres. In Cheongju for example the YMCA runs a 2 hours class every Saturday morning from 10am.

And, don’t forget language exchanges. Many Koreans will be more than happy to do a language exchange with you, it’s a great way to learn about not only the language but also the culture.