34 In Korean Classes Review/ Korean learning journey (:/ Seoul Life 2010

Yonsei International Summer School – Korean lessons

This is long overdue. I know 😀

Brief background:
YISS is a different program from Yonsei’s KLI (Korean Language Institute) in that it’s a summer school (for high school graduates/undergraduates) that offers a wide variety of courses in English. They have general business/science/humanities courses and also courses that are Korea related (Korean films/culture etc). Of course, they do offer Korean language classes but these are not compulsory.

YISS VS KLI Korean lessons
We share the same teachers/textbooks/classroom materials etc. However, KLI classes are conducted in the morning, while we have ours in the afternoon. Compared to KLI, the lessons are less intensive (since we meet for fewer class hours) but the pace is similar. I have never attended the KLI program, but hopefully the review will be helpful to those who are thinking about going there.

1. Placement test
We are asked to sit for a placement test a few days before the start of lessons. For those who have no background in Korean at all, they are allowed to skip the test and they will be allocated to Level 1 straightaway. The placement test consists of a written test and a ‘interview’. We are assigned to random classrooms where we take the written test. During the written test, we’ll be called into another room for the interview one by one. The placement test is similar to TOPIK, and the questions are arranged in order of increasing difficulty. There are MCQ, short answer questions and a short essay (response/discussion of a short article). Students are asked to complete as much as they are able to.

As for the interview, it’s a one-to-one with a KLI teacher. They will have a long list of questions, which are arranged in terms of difficulty (level 1-6). The teacher will start out with the simple questions and progressively move on to gauge your standard. Just relax, and answer the questions. A bad bout of nerves won’t help since you wouldn’t want to be placed in a level lower than your real standard!

I can’t remember if there’s a time limit, but we are allowed to leave once we complete both components.

A few days later, the results will be posted on a bulletin. I was placed in Level 6. The accuracy of the placement test is disputable: if you feel that you’re being placed incorrectly, please let the teacher know on the first day of lessons! Level 1 students are further split into 3 classes according to their proficiency (ability to read hangul etc).

I have no idea how the classes are like in the rest of the level, so I’ll just review my experience in the Advanced 2 class.

In the classroom..

The class size is relatively small (less than 20) and gets progressively smaller as the level increases. My class has only 7 students and I was the only foreigner. The 1.5hr of class time is split into 3 sections: Reading, Grammar/Vocabulary, Writing. The first section is taken by a different teacher. There’s no specific time allocated to speaking, but we are always engaging in discussion during the class.

The 한국어 읽기 6 textbook consists of long passages with reading exercises. We take turns to read aloud each paragraph. After each paragraph, the teacher will go through difficult vocabulary and also discuss the topic in the text. There’s no rigid format and often, we sidetrack to related topics. The discussion is really engaging and it helps to form an in depth understanding of the passage. Somehow, the vocabulary becomes really easy to absorb.

Grammar/Vocabulary, Writing
We don’t actually write much in class. The textbook which we used is really challenging and the vocabulary are tough. It may be a little overwhelming for those who have never taken intensive Korean classes. However, the teachers are really thorough in their explanations and we are encouraged to voice our questions during the lesson.

Yonsei KLI programs are famous for being grammar and vocabulary intensive and I agree. It’s a thorough program for those who are looking into studying/working in Korea. However, for those who aim to be conversational in Korean, I feel that this may not be a suitable program. Those who have been placed in the lower levels told me that the classes are really too overwhelming for them and perhaps they do not have enough interest and passion to spend more effort in the lessons. Personally, it helps to prepare for the lessons beforehand, so that you can understand what’s going on.

YISS attracts students from all over the world, but 50% are Korean-Americans who are returning to their native country for the summer break. Alot of them sign up for Korean classes too, and the higher levels are usually populated by them. This can be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on how you view it. On one hand, you have practice partners (since most of them are fluent in speaking) and on the other hand, it increases your stress level, knowing that they are way better than you although you are all in the same level!

Feel free to drop me an email/comment if you have any queries regarding YISS and KLI ^^

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    12 January, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Hi Shanna, I love your blog (and I’ve been following it intermittently for a while now). Thanks for a great post! This is slightly unrelated but I was just curious – what’s the first Korean novel you read? I’ve been studying Korean by myself for a bit more than a year now. I think I can recognize quite a bit of grammar patterns but vocabulary is a problem for me… I’ve been trying to build my vocab by reading manhwa and news articles and have been some what successful… now I kind of want to try reading a novel even though it’ll probably be extremely beyond my level. What do you think?

    • Reply
      12 January, 2011 at 3:35 PM

      Hi Archana! I think trying to read a novel is a good idea! I bought my first novel way before i was able to read one xD I haven’t finish a whole book before though. I love big bang’s autiobiography 세상에 너를 소리쳐 and this is the book that i almost completed reading hahaha. it’s inspiring!

      i don’t really own any novels. Most of my books are non fiction. I think that’s an easier genre to start with ^^

      • Reply
        12 January, 2011 at 11:31 PM

        Thanks a lot! Haha, I love Big Bang too so I guess I’ll look into that :). I really want to try to read 성균관 유생들의 나날 but it’ll probably be like trying to read War and Peace after studying English for only a year… Haha. Looking forward to your future posts 🙂

    • Reply
      13 January, 2011 at 2:18 PM

      I just bought the 2 books related to the Secret Garden drama currently running.
      One of which is a ‘manhwa’ – which they made out of screenshots from the drama itself.
      The other is http://english.gmarket.co.kr/challenge/neo_goods/goods.asp?goodscode=200894789

      A 3rd book I bought is 아내가 결혼했다 , which is the novel of which the movie was based on. I loved the movie but I suspect my book might be a little (understatement!) above my level. But it will be good reading practice till I build up my vocabulary!

  • Reply
    13 January, 2011 at 1:02 AM

    Your passion and desire to learn Korean is amazing! I wish I was like that. I guess because I’m no longer in school, I lost the study habits (…did I ever have them?? 😛 ), and I’ve had more free time, which results in me learning/studying intermittently. Lately though, I’ve just been swamped with work and I come home tired 🙁

    This is cool, a good first-hand encounter into Yonsei’s language programs; I was thinking about enrolling in something like that if I’m ever in Korea for an extended period of time. Do you know if there are other reputable (and maybe less intense!) schools/universities to learn Korean? I think it would be an awesome experience to work part-time and take some language classes. It will definitely help me learn Korean since I’ll be surrounded by the language — I learned a bit of Mandarin out of necessity, and I think I can do the same for Korean 🙂

    That said, I wonder if these universities will accept anyone who wants to learn, or if the person has to actually still be in school?

    • Reply
      13 January, 2011 at 8:28 AM

      sogang has a really good conversational korean program! they have alot of activities, which makes the learning more fun and less intense! i think that will be a good place to try if you are thinking of gg for classes! ^^ kyung hee has a more in between program. 😀

      the unis will accept everybody who has at least a high school cert ^^ some of the schools have part time programs which is less intensive too!

  • Reply
    13 January, 2011 at 3:24 AM

    THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! I was wondering how classes are in Yonsei. I was going to apply for the Spring semester (March classes) but my mom said I should apply on may for summer classes =.= but anyway the book you have is different from what I bought. I think the intensity of the classes offered might drive me to be more serious about studying Korean! I remember when we talked about the classes you took it really made me nervous and now I feel the same feeling when I read your post but at the same time excited! I’m looking forward to summer classes!

    • Reply
      13 January, 2011 at 8:32 AM

      yeah i was nervous prior to the lessons too, not sure what to expect xD and since we haven’t been taking korean classes for a long long time, it adds on to the anxiety. But no worries, I’m sure you will enjoy the classes! 😀 😀

  • Reply
    14 January, 2011 at 6:22 AM

    Do the Songang books help a little with conversation (although live conversation works better)?

    • Reply
      14 January, 2011 at 8:59 AM

      i’ve never seen the sogang books so I can’t give an opinion. >,< But i'll think only live conversation or sth like skype will be helpful with conversation ^^

  • Reply
    Yonsei International Summer School – Korean Lessons | Nanoomi.net
    14 January, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    […] can read the original post at Hangukdrama. var addthis_language = 'en'; blog comments powered by Disqus var […]

  • Reply
    Jade Hall
    18 January, 2011 at 2:53 AM

    Hi, I really loved this post, it helped me a lot 😀 I have one question though:

    – I plan on studying Korean at Yonsei during the summer. What would be the difference between taking Korean courses through YISS and doing the KLI Summer Special? From what I can tell, only the tuition and class times are different…

    • Reply
      18 January, 2011 at 8:26 AM

      If there is no class hours difference, I guess the Korean courses will have the same syllabus. YISS allows you to take other courses such as business/science/korean culture etc and it’s popular with undergraduates. If you are just looking at studying Korean, perhaps the KLI summer special will be sufficient. I think their tuition fees are less expensive too ^^

  • Reply
    27 January, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    hey, do you go to Yonsei through NTU’s GSS? hehe, i’m in a dilemma right now. I’m interested in Ewha, Yondae or SNU, but my major issue is their school fees! And NTU GSS really give vague information – http://global.ntu.edu.sg/global/globalsummerstudies/Pages/GSSAsia.aspx; anw, I hope I dont appear as rude, but can you help me see which is a “cheaper” uni to go for summer exchange?

    My korean language is kinda fail, and thus, I need a pro like you to guide me. haha, THANKS SO MUCH!

    • Reply
      27 January, 2011 at 6:10 PM

      hahahaha! yup i went through gss ^^ yaaa i know they give super vague info, i was so frustrated by it last yr! SNU is the most expensive and totally not worth it.

      If your aim is to clear electives, ewha is not a good choice since they can only transfer 6 AUs.

      So my conclusion is that yonsei is the best! 😀 they offer loads of partial scholarships and alot of ntu students who applied got it last yr. if you are interested in learning korean, they have one of the best korean classes around!

      i’m always happy to help, so if you have further questions, can always leave a comment or email me! ^^

  • Reply
    27 January, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    yo, thanks for your info 🙂
    but, yonsei is like more expensive than SNU leh!

    Yonsei is like

    Total: KRW 3,700,000 plus 1. On-campus housing: KRW 720,000 (double room) and
    2. Field trip fee: KRW 550,000

    but SNU: http://oia.snu.ac.kr/summer/ is 422000 won!

    and, i dont see any partial scholarship offered on Yonsei website eh 🙁

    aiyoo save me hahah!

    • Reply
      27 January, 2011 at 10:37 PM

      btw, how much did you spend for the Yonsei GSS trip, school fees + expenses? 😉 need to start budgeting now hehe

    • Reply
      28 January, 2011 at 9:02 AM

      field trip is optional though. I was under the impression that SNU charges by the number of course you take in their summer school.

      yonsei scholarship –> go to registration tab –> scholarships

      i went as an exchange student so i only paid for the accomodation fees. as for expenses, it really varies so i cant help much. ^^;; a normal budget meal costs around 3000-4000won and typically 15,000won can get u a really good meal. LOL

      • Reply
        28 January, 2011 at 9:26 AM

        LOL lucky you. right now, everything is fee-paying. i wanted exchange slots too, cause i think my gpa allows it, but the ntu…. =.=
        btw, my friends are saying going to a good uni for GSS can help boost resume, but are they really valid? lol its more for personal experience right? 🙂

      • Reply
        28 January, 2011 at 6:51 PM

        haha i dun really think it helps in boosting resume, maybe it does have the same effect as all overseas exposure does xD it seems like a lot of ntu students are thinking of yonsei gss!

  • Reply
    19 February, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    annyeong! i’m back agn 🙂
    anw, ive a qns – when you go for ur gss trip, which airline did you book with?

    and where did you book air tickets to seoul?

    really ty for answering my qns, you’ve been kind 😀

    • Reply
      19 February, 2011 at 4:12 PM

      hahaha i took SIA. i guess u can book online but i just went with a travel agency. STA travel – near bugis ^^

      so have you applied for it alr?

      • Reply
        19 February, 2011 at 4:26 PM

        yeap, accepted 4 snu, but now i’m considering ewha due to budget constraint!!!!!
        because its really not worth it; around $9k to go snu 🙁
        i’m trying to find cheap flights for seoul now lor. i heard of STA too! but was it cheap?

      • Reply
        19 February, 2011 at 4:40 PM

        lol that’s expensive >,<
        Mmm booking online is the cheapest i think, since u save on agent fees etc.
        i wanted a direct flight so it was definitely more expensive. plus it was an open ticket (or sth).

        thai airway with transit at bangkok is relatively cheaper and the cheapest is some china airline that transit at beijiing or sth. haha. but a really tiring way to travel LOL

        it really depends on u ^^

  • Reply
    1 March, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    Thanks for the post! I’ve been having a really hard time deciding between YISS and KLI and this is the first helpful blog.
    I decided at first to go with YISS because I thought I might get too bored with only studying korean all day, and the KLI program seemed less official (from what I got from their website). But now I’m starting to second guess myself. If I’m going to Korea to learn Korean (whether just for conversation or for work in the future), should I opt for KLI? Is it actually more official that its website makes it out to be (are the people who go there legitimately go to learn) or is YISS just really worth going to?

    • Reply
      1 March, 2011 at 11:30 AM

      KLI is definitely much more official than YISS. Summer schools are.. summer schools. haha okay that isn’t very helpful but summer schools are usually just for enrichment. Usually, nobody studies during YISS. As for me, I only put in effort in Korean cos i really like it. hahaha.

      KLI is known for its intensive korean courses and those who graduate from there usually attain a high level of korean. ^^ You have to really work hard in here. (:

      • Reply
        2 March, 2011 at 9:13 AM

        thanks so much! you have no idea how helpful this has been

  • Reply
    14 March, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    I am also trying to decide between KLI and YISS. Do you know how their workloads compare?

    I have never studied Korean before and that is my main goal, so I am leaning towards KLI. However, it would be fun to take another university course, that is if it isn’t too rigourous. I am high school senior and will be doing either programme before my freshman year of college.

    Also, are the beginner Korean classes in KLI and YISS similar?

    • Reply
      14 March, 2011 at 7:54 PM

      KLI is definitely much more fast paced and the work load is heavier. The classes are similar in that they are taught by the same group of teachers and use the same text. (:

      • Reply
        15 March, 2011 at 1:17 PM

        How do the students differ between each programme? For example, in regards to their social activities.

  • Reply
    29 April, 2011 at 5:20 AM

    How is the social aspect of KLI? I saw that there is a curfew is that heavily enforced? Do students go out at night?

  • Reply
    24 May, 2011 at 5:15 AM

    Im currently looking for korean summer schools around Naperville Illinois but cant find one.

  • Reply
    25 April, 2012 at 11:07 PM


    I just read your post, thanks so much for that! I am going to attend KLI this summer and would like to prepare myself for the placement test. So it really looks like TOPIK? I did three semesters of Korean in London and now am on the level of Sogang 1B finished. Which level in KLI should I aim for?

    Do you get a lot of homework to do? How much more advanced a person is after one term with KLI?

    Thanks so much for any answers!!!

    • Reply
      27 April, 2012 at 4:41 PM

      Hi! It’s not exactly like TOPIK but you can expect similar question styles 😀 Mmm it’s best that you don’t aim for anything but just try your best in the placement test. It is hard to predict which level you will be in, since you may be better at one skill and weaker at the next. ^^

      The amount of homework you get depends on which level you are at, the teacher you get and the general dynamics of the class. I didn’t have much homework though.

      Mmm how advanced you get also depends on how much effort you put in, both in and after classes. It really varies. I have seen marked improvements in some people but zero in others.

    Leave a Reply