I’ve received a question from a reader a few months ago and I apologize that I had forgotten about it until he reminded me again yesterday ㅠㅠ
Here’s the original question:
What’s your opinion on the fact that Korean Universities offers foreigners to apply for regular Korean classes if they have passed KLPT 4? Is it to low? Do you really understand that much after level 4 that you would understand uni-classes?
A very interesting one indeed. Each Korean university sets their own standards for exemption of Korean Language classes for foreign students but the general idea is that those who reached the level 5 (or above) of TOPIK, KLPT (score: 400), or KPE (Including Speaking and Writing tests) will be exempted from the language courses.
For exchange students, technically there’s no restriction if you want to take a class in Korean. It’s really up to the professor if they want to accept you in the class or not. I only attended ONE lesson of a Korean life science class so I’m not a good judge. ^^;
Back to the point. I would think it depends. I think you can follow a class that uses less technical term… say a sociology class. Compared to a Korean history / Engineering class where you will hear a lot of very technical jargon.
And I would think TOPIK is a more robust criteria compared to KLPT. I have already obtained a score of 415 in 2009 and I was NOWHERE near being able to comprehend normal Korean conversation, let alone attend a university lesson.
The proficiency tests are a good gauge of your vocabulary and grammar level but it does not say much. You need a lot of experiences listening to Korean, getting used to various speech styles etc before you can say that you are good enough.
Taking classes in a university not only involves listening to the lecture, but also interacting with your classmates to do group work, writing reports, giving presentations and writing your exams in Korean. I would think that even if you have obtained a level 6 in TOPIK, you will still need time to adjust and adapt and perhaps only be comfortable with taking university lessons after a semester or so.