Singapore Korean International School's Korean Language Centre

Photo Credits: SKIS Facebook Page

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned how I went to the new Singapore Korean International School (SKIS) campus in Bukit Timah to register for the 26th TOPIK exam, and eventually went back for the exam itself. Just a few days ago, I was given the opportunity to go down to the school again, but this time for Korean language trial class. Jamie, an intern with the school contacted me to ask me, after reading my comment on Shanna's (Hangukdrama) post about her Advanced 3 trial class there. 

As I haven't taken proper Korean classes in about 2 years nor had the time and self-discipline to self-study Korean, I wasn't able to get a proper gauge of what level I should try. After telling her my (failed) TOPIK results for the Intermediate level, Jamie recommended that I go for her class, Intermediate 2, where they were using the Kyunghee Intermediate textbook. 

(On hindsight, even though I had used the Kyunghee Beginner 1 & 2 textbooks when I took Korean 2 & 3 at NUS itself, I had also studied for an additional 3-4 months at Seoul National University's Language Education Institute (SNU LEI), using their SNU Korean 3 book, hence there could have been some overlaps with the Kyunghee Intermediate textbook. I shall go in-depth into my Korean language journey/path in another entry.)

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there was a shuttle bus from Newton and Clementi MRT to the school itself, about 30 minutes before the lesson. The first time I went there, I actually took a leisurely stroll all the way in, and the second time I caught a shuttle bus from the bus stop outside the school. At the MRT station, I saw loads of people boarding the bus, which really caught me by surprise because I hadn't expected that many people to be attending Korean language classes. But that just goes to show how Hallyu has really spread in Singapore in the past few years. 

Photo Credits: SKIS Facebook Page
During their 52nd KLC intake orientation. Look at the amount of students!

Once there, I settled nicely into the class armed with a borrowed textbook and workbook. As I was an unknown face, the lady teacher asked me to introduce myself in Korean. It was ages since I last spoke Korean to a group, so I was really very nervous, plus it was really cold (due to the rain) and I messed up a little. But the teacher was really nice. She also came over during break time to talk to me and asked me if I had any questions regarding the lesson. 

The textbook I was lent. (The writing was done by teachers who use it for teaching.) And my notebook for jotting down new vocabulary I learnt in the class!

Having suddenly joined the class, I was quite lost at the beginning. But the teacher moved at a rather leisurely pace so it was quite easy for me to catch up. For most of the lesson, we went through the homework the class was assigned the week before and did a listening practice. Due to my lack of Korean practice, I forgot quite a bit of vocabulary, but fortunately I still managed to grasp the grammar portions. 

Photo Credits: SKIS Facebook Page
The Intermediate 2 class that I crashed. Classes take place in their elementary classrooms hence the mini-sized furniture.

Overall, I would say I enjoyed the class. Perhaps I had gotten too used to the quick, academic-styled pace of my NUS Korean lessons that the pace of the KLC lessons seemed relatively slower. But it's not a bad thing. For someone who hasn't taken Korean classes in a long time, this pace suited me well. I liked how the teacher followed the book closely, but would also call on students to provide their own examples. She also made an effort to call a different student each time, ensuring that everyone had a chance to speak up in class. To some this might seem quite scary, but I honestly feel if one needs to speak up in a language class to learn better, in terms of pronunciation and sounding natural. 

However, I did notice that the teacher wasn't very particular on pronunciation even though some of the students' pronunciations came off a little weirdly. Maybe because it was an intermediate-level class? And I would have loved to see her teach a new chapter/grammar point though, so as to give a more accurate review. But since it was already the second-last week of their classes, I guess all the chapters had already been taught. 

Having attended classes at NUS Extension, NUS, SNU and now SKIS KLC, I would say all four places do have vastly different styles. Each have their own pros and cons. But that said, I do think that SKIS is really a great place for Korean language beginners. They provide a very structured learning experience in a very Korean environment. (Korean students everywhere since it is a Korean school afterall! Just grab one to talk to/practice with, haha.) I also like how lessons are twice weekly (Monday &Wednesday or Tuesday & Thursday), hence you really get drilled in the language and are 'forced' to review it at least twice a week. Plus, they even have shuttle buses from MRT stations, making it extremely convenient for working adults and students to attend. 

If you're interested, do visit their website or Facebook page to find out more about their 53rd intake for the KLC, which is starting in late September. If you have any questions for me regarding them or any of the Korean language schools I've been to, do leave me a comment here or on Formspring.