Saturday, October 17, 2009

싱가폴 어학원 비교

Two years ago, I wrote a post which compares the Korean language courses offered by NUS Extension (NEX) and Singapore Korean School (SKS). Since then, National University of Singapore (NUS) also started its own Korean language programme.

I was recently asked to update my comparison by a reader who is currently an NUS undergraduate. Since I have no knowledge of how Korean courses are run in NUS, I am writing based on what I am being told. All credit for this post goes to the reader who made the request.

Since my last post, NEX's Korean programme has undergone some changes. One siginificant change is that, it is in the progress of changing its Basic-level textbooks to those published by Kyunghee. The duration for each of its Intermediate-level courses has also been lengthened from 32 to 40 hours.

NUS took in its inaugural batch of Korean language students on Aug 2008. Similar to NEX, NUS uses Kyunghee textbooks. I was told that Korean 1 module is highly popular with the students and it is not easy to get a place. As NUS's Korean language students, they have to attend 4 hours of lectures and 2 hours of tutorial weekly. They also get to go for 1-month language immersion programme at Yonsei University during Summer. The bad news is, NUS's programme is only open to its students.

Table 1: This table shows the pegging of the various Korean language courses/modules offered at various Singapore institutions to the standard Korean language proficiency level. As NUS has yet to fully develop its Intermediate-level modules, I have left a question mark under it. It is speculated that NUS may be introducing Korean 5 and 6 in the not-so-distant future.

Table 2: How to read this table - Take the case of NEX, the '150 hours' means the total number of lesson hours require to complete the whole Basic-level syllabus. '60 weeks over 6 sems' means there are six 10-week long semesters. Each semester is considered a course and hence, 6 semesters means you have to pay course fee 6 times. The time in bracket indicates the approximate length of time you will take to complete a level.

From Table 2, I am speculating that NUS's Intermediate-level programme will also be about 234 hours. My teacher, who was the brainchild behind NUS's programme, had earlier envisaged a programme that is between 400 and 500 hours. So, it seems like thing is taking shape quite nicely.

Table 3: This table attempts to give an analysis of the cost-benefit for each of the institution. The course fee does not take into account textbook cost or any discount that may be given. Hour to hour comparison, it is the cheapest to study in Korea. But, if all incidental and opportunity cost are included in the calculation, it can well cost 5 times more (compared to NEX) to study in Korea. From another point of view, over a fixed length of time, it is easily 10 times more effective to study Korean language in Korea than in Singapore. The next question to ask is, so what if it is 10 times more effective when at the end of the day, it cannot be translated to higher-paying job or better promotion prospect. To me, I have a happy and rewarding time studying in Korea and that in itself is priceless.

1. Course fee (per semester) of about KRW1.5 million and an exchange rate of SGD1 : KRW800 was used to arrive at the estimate. The figure is on the high end. But if Korean won continues to appreciate, this figure may become low in future. As a ballpark, it will cost about SGD20,000 (~KRW17 million), with everything included, to study and lead a comfortable life in Korea for 1 year. A low-end estimate will still add up to a 5-figure amount.


  1. hi, don't know if it is alright to ask this here, but do you know where to buy the kyunghee textbooks in singapore? sorry for the trouble!

    anyway, i really enjoy reading your blog! i'm going to seoul for exchange next year and hopefully i can go to the places of interest that u blog because they look really beautiful ^^

  2. if you have friends studying in SKS or NEX, you can try your luck asking them to buy on your behalf. I think the schools won't sell the textbooks to non-student.

    anyway, i don't think it is helpful buying the textbooks because you can't learn much from them. the textbooks are quite devoid of explanation and is not recommended for self-learner.

  3. hi thanks for your reply! actually i intend to take lessons at NUS because i've tried self-learning before and it was a really tough process. just thinking of buying the textbook to prepare beforehand. anyway, thanks so much for your advice! ^^