Korean Language Training

So I’ve been looking through the application guidelines for KGSP 2017. One thing that I noticed is that they eliminated this sentence that was in the 2014 guidelines (my year):

“Scholars who do not pass at least TOPIK Level 3 after one year of Korean language course must complete an additional six-month coursework in the Korean language.”

The current language in both the guidelines and the FAQ make it sound like this six-month extension will not be granted and you must pass TOPIK 3 in just one year. Now, in 2015, they didn’t mention the part about people being able to move on to graduate studies if they pass TOPIK levels 5 or 6 in the first six months, but that was still a policy. So, it may be that they just left it out of the guidelines. If this is the case, then there will likely be information about this in the information given to students who are finally selected in June.

But, it is also possible that they decided to limit the language training to just one year.

Each year, between 10 and 20% of language trainees do not pass TOPIK 3 and are required to take another six months of Korean language training. There are probably a variety of reasons for this. Some may just not take the training all that seriously. They know they have an extra six months if they need it. Some may be worried about their Korean abilities and doing graduate studies in Korean and throw the test on purpose. And some people might simply find the Korean language and Korean experience more difficult than they expected. If, indeed, they have eliminated the possibility of studying for an extra six months then you want to make sure you are not in any of these categories.

If you are serious about studying in Korea, I would recommend taking some time to familiarize yourself with the Korean language before you end up on a plane to spend 3-4 years of your life here. Hangul (the Korean writing system) may look difficult, but it is actually one of the easiest writing systems to learn, so with some help you should be able to learn it on your own.

Beyond the writing system, Korean is pretty much in a language family by itself. Some linguists have said that it belongs in a family with Turkish and Japanese, but many disagree. If you speak either Chinese or Japanese, you will find many cognates (words with similar sounds and roots). There is also some English influence, in terms of vocabulary, because English is such a widely used language. Otherwise, the grammar and vocabulary are likely to be completely different from whatever language it is you speak natively. This naturally makes Korean more difficult to learn, but it is certainly not impossible.

By doing some prep work before you leave, you can eliminate most of the possibility of failure. A leg up will mean that you are less likely to fail because you were unable to learn enough, and you will learn everything better once you arrive. Then you just need to remember that while Korean may not be what you came to Korea to do, it is not just an obstacle on the way to your real goal. It will be a means to achieve your real goal and you should give it as much attention as you do computer science or bio tech or psychology or history or art.

Fortunately, there are many online resources for starting to learn Korean:

How to study Korean

Talk to Me in Korean

Korean Class 101

The Study in Korea people, the ones who bring you the KGSP scholarship, even have their own list of online courses here.

Whether you start now, or after you reach a certain stage in the application process, is up to you. It is not even 100% necessary to do that much before you leave. One year should be enough to learn Korean to TOPIK 3, if that is your goal, and you put in the work, but I would recommend just looking through some lessons to figure out what it is you are getting yourself into and whether Korean really is for you. You don’t want to do all of this work applying, only to be sent home after a year because you were unable to pass a Korean test.

14 thoughts on “Korean Language Training”

  1. Hello!

    I applied through the US embassy but didn’t hear back. I’ve heard of people who got the scholarship and never did and interview with their embassy buf they were from Europe.

    So my question is: If I am not contacted for an interview does that mean I am out of the running for the scholarship?

    1. I never interviewed with the US embassy, but I don’t know if this was because they don’t interview everyone, or because I was living in Japan at the time and they thought it was too much trouble. In any case, wait a little longer, they will tell you if they are sending your application on to NIIED.

      1. Oh they do?? They tell us if they will send our application to NIIED on April 7th (the deadline for the embassy to send out who they recommend)?

      2. It depends a lot on the embassy or consulate, but most in the U.S. will tell you if they are sending you on to the next selection with NIIED. It will be sometime around April 7, possibly before or very soon after depending on when their decision is made.

  2. Last question promise! So I talked to several people who applied to the same embassy as me and they all said they got interviews but since you said not everyone gets interviews should I email the embassy and ask them if all interviews have been done? Just in case they accidentally missed me?

    1. I doubt they have accidentally missed you. If you have applied in the correct manner (at the correct consulate, by the deadline, etc) then they will consider your application and contact you for an interview if they need to conduct one. Personally I would avoid contacting them and asking if they have made a mistake… But if you are really curious, you could contact them to confirm that your application was received, it achieves your goal of finding out if they’ve read your application, lets them know that you haven’t heard anything from them (on the off chance they tried to contact you, but were unsuccessful), and doesn’t imply that they have not been doing their job well.

  3. Hello, How are you doing? hope you are fine.
    Please based on Form 1
    Employment or Professional Research Experience
    i have an issue i don’t have any experience in professional areas or employment.Is that important.

  4. Hello!
    I see that some people have already taken the interview in other countries. I am still waiting for the 1st selection results! For the application process, we were asked to email the documents to the embassy; which I did; and then the selected applicants are required to send the documents by mail. I have no idea whether they selected the first round applicants or not. The deadline for sending the documents to NIIED is due to 7th of this month, which is on Friday!! I’m freaking out thinking about the possibility that I failed the 1st round, that’s why they did not contact me in order to mail them the documents!!

  5. Hi I read your blog entry about the KGSP Updates and I ave a question about the GPA requirement:
    I already emailed NIIED and the Korean embassy in my country about this, but I’m still waiting for their response. My university gave me the “conversion” of my grades, and my GPA is around 2.5/4.0 (which is just below the requirement), but my percentile is 86%. Which grade will the NIIED consider? I’ve been planning to apply for KGSP for years, but, life (and career) got in the way. On top of that, my accumulated work experience is almost nine years in different but related field, and I’m planning to take up a Master’s degree related to that industry. Thanks for your reply in advance. 😀

    1. My guess is that they will consider the grades rather than the percentile (if by percentile you mean class rank). The grades reflect how much of the material you have mastered and that is what they are interested in. The percentile only tells them how much you mastered in relation to how much other people in your class mastered, which doesn’t mean anything unless they know that the quality of your classmates is very high.

      1. HI thanks for your response. Uhm, no it’s not the class rank. That’s the percentage equivalent of my cumulative grade weighted average. Our highest is 1.0, and I’m just right below 2.0, and the fail score is 5.0. I figured that they’ll consider the percentage equivalent. Well, I guess no chance for me. Thanks for your reply. 🙂

      2. Ahh, then I change my answer! It is true that you can’t just divide and come up with a percentage… But in the 5.0 point scale used by Korea 5.0 is the highest and 1.0 is the lowest, so just below 2.0 on your scale I would think would be above 80% converted. Is it not?

      3. That’s what I actually thought before I got the conversion from my university. But when I got the conversion, I was confused (and a little disheartened actually). I didn’t expect that my university’s 1.0 (highest) is equivalent to 97-100%. I’m still keeping my hopes high while waiting for the reply of NIIED and KGSP. I hope my inquiry won’t be snubbed ehehe. Thank you very much replying! 😀

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