Monday, June 20, 2011

Ewha Intensive Language Program: First Impressions

A view inside the new Ewha textbook for level 3-1
I've had four days of class at Ewha by now, so I figured it was time to post some of my thoughts about the program. I was a bit surprised to be placed into Level 3, but I guess some of my self-study over the past month paid off. On the other hand, I'd been warned by my home professor that Ewha is tougher at the low levels than Sogang is (and I'd only learned from the Sogang curriculum), so I was kind of worried I wouldn't be able to keep up. Plus, the classes would of course be entirely in Korean (as they are from Level 1 when taught at probably any university in Korea), which I expected to be potentially problematic.

Fortunately, my worries have proved groundless so far. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could understand everything the teacher said in class, including Korean-only explanations of new vocab and grammar. I also have found the lessons so far to be reasonably paced and, while definitely challenging, not so intimidating that I feel like I was placed into the wrong level. 

However, because I placed into Level 3 only based on a 90-minute written test and a short interview, and because I am coming from the Sogang curriculum, I do definitely have major gaps in my knowledge of grammar and vocab compared to what the Ewha curriculum expects of students entering Level 3. I don't want to drop a level since I feel that I am nevertheless keeping up well with my current class and homework, but I went ahead and bought the textbooks for Level 2 as well as Level 3 so that I can do some catching up on the weekends (at least sometime before our midterm).         

As far as the more logistical stuff: The Ewha program is larger than I thought it might be, though I don't know how it compares to Sogang and Yonsei (I expect it is somewhat smaller than those two, since it is less talked about). There are currently 7 levels (even though the website only advertised 6 last time I checked). Levels 1-4 have four to five classes of about 10-15 people each (my class is 15 people). There are three or so classes in level 5, two (I think) classes in level 6, and one small class in level 7. Almost every class, except one or two upper level classes, is tag-taught by two teachers. One teacher takes MWF, and the other teacher is TTh. Class starts at 9:10. We have a 10 minute break from 10:20 to 10:30, a 20 minute break from 11:40 to 12:00, and class ends for the day at 1:00. I haven't had a large amount of homework yet (about 1 hour per day).

The Ewha Language Center building is also fairly new and is a very pleasant space. It has a large atrium, an open-air study area, a convenience store, an internet lounge, and 6 or so floors of air conditioned classrooms. The classrooms are a good size, with enough room for all the students but not so large that you are ever too far away from the teacher.

The textbooks for all levels have been revised as of this year and are brand new. They've addressed comments and complaints about the previous versions, seemingly quite effectively. Apparently people wanted more emphasis on speaking practice, and this is now incorporated as an integral part of the textbooks. There are also workbooks for each level at least through Level 3 (I'm not sure about higher levels), and levels 1-3 have two-part textbooks (e.g. 3-1 and 3-2, similar to the way Sogang splits Level 3 into 3A and 3B). The grammar and directions are explained in English, Chinese, or Japanese for levels 1-2, and in Korean from Level 3 onward. Also, there is a short article about Korean culture at the end of each chapter, plus a poem or song. The textbooks are pleasant to look at and easy to navigate. They aren't as picture-dominated as the Sogang textbooks, but I think I actually prefer the look of the Ewha books.

So far, I enjoy both of my class's teachers. One of them (the MWF one) is younger and more peppy than the other, but both are very nice and helpful, and are very good teachers. I also really like the other students in my class. I believe 8 of them are Japanese, and there are several Chinese students, plus one from Singapore and a fellow American - a grad student who is the only guy in our class. Speaking of which, there are actually a good handful of guys in the Ewha language program (though only one teacher in the whole program is male). I'm told that the Ewha program historically attracted mostly Japanese and Chinese students, but I'd say that the current student body overall is slightly more than 1/3 Japanese and Chinese each, and slightly less than 1/3 "other" (some Americans, a New Zealander, a few Eastern Europeans, a Dane, etc.) 

That's it for now, I think. I'll probably also make a short post with more of my thoughts about Ewha vs. Sogang as far as curriculum goes. For those of you who might study in Korea in the future, I hope this was helpful!               

1 comment:

  1. Hey Elena!

    I do have a Skype! my Skype name is greenlyGood :) I tried looking for you but there are a few ambiguous Elena Perrys. Let me know when you are free to talk!

    I'm so amazed and proud, Elena, you have really taken control of your desire to learn Korean and already come such a long way in basically two years!!! I remember once in the car when you had trouble understanding some very basic Korean that your mom and I were speaking... and now look at you! :D It is a language full of character and emotion, and it must be so exciting being able to understand it more and more each day!

    I do have a few questions about your life outside of the classroom. What are you doing in your free time? Do you even have free time? (seems like it, since class is from 9-1) Where are you staying and what are the conditions like? Have you experienced the wonders of the Korean toilets yet??!? And most importantly... are you eating well?!!!??

    Buoyantly yours, always,