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How I’m Studying Korean for FREE from Korea University (and You Can Too!)

**The following is a complete write-up of the information in the Slideshare above and includes some TIPS at the end.

Quick Registration Tip

One of my friends recommended trying in IE7 or lower and making sure that all of your popup blockers are disabled. It may be a typical Korean site, optimized for lower versions of IE, and the “RESEND CONFIRMATION EMAIL” link will be in a popup after you register.

“Quick Korean”

The program is called “Quick Korean” and is offered by the Cyber University of Korea. Actually, when we launched Key to Korean in 2012, this is exactly the kind of thing that I had in mind to put together.

Why is this Awesome?

  1. It’s a full range of Korean classes that take you from learning Hangul to acquiring TOPIK 3.5*
  2. It’s entirely online, accessible with any Internet-capable device, and available all over the world
  3. There is a rich collection of class contents and resources that target all Learning Styles and interests
  4. It’s completely FREE!~

All about the Program

The Cyber University of Korea (고려사이버대학교) belongs to the same Educational Foundation(고려중앙학원) as Korea University (고려대학교), one of the oldest and most prestigious private universities in Korea. Korea University was founded by the late Inchon Kim Seong Soo(김성수), and CUK was founded by Kim Seong Soo’s grandson, the late Hwajeong Kim Byung-Kwan(김병관), who was Honorary Chairman of the Dong-A Ilbo daily newspaper at the time he founded CUK. Because CUK shares the same roots as Korea University, CUK shares, too, in its educational spirit but brings that spirit on-line.

The Cyber University of Korea was the first accredited online university in Korea and remains a leader in online education (this becomes obvious when you take a look at their course materials).

“Quick Korean” (and the “e-Learning for Multicultural Families” course that preceded it) have also received backing from some major companies including:

  1. POSCO (2007)
  2. Goldman Sachs (2007)
  3. Google (2014)
  4. Naver (2014)
  5. The Dong-A Ilbo (of which CUK’s founder was Honorary Chairman at the time of CUK’s founding)
  6. Channel A (the Dong-A Ilbo’s TV channel)
  7. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (certifies the degrees for Korean language teaching)

History of “e-Learning for Multicultural Families”

With the founding of the university in 2001, online foreign language education also began. By 2007, the “e-Learning Campaign for Multicultural Families” was developed and received backing from both POSCO and Goldman Sachs. The program was specifically targeted to foreign brides in Korea and was initially thought to only be available in the provinces where POSCO operates (Jeollanam-do and Gyeonsangbuk-do) but was later rolled out to the entire country.

Language instruction included 7 levels, from beginner to advanced, and 7 languages including: Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, English, Mongolian, and Thai.

History of “Quick Korean”

In 2012, CUK began offering a Bachelor’s degree for Korean language teaching (2nd level) that is certified by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Following this, and a trip to Vietnam by the school’s President where he learned of the opening of a new Samsung factory with thousands of workers in need of “quick Korean” language education. It was at this point that the school began its push for a complete “Quick Korean” program.

The launch dates for the different levels of “Quick Korean” are as follows:

  1. December 4, 2013: Level 1 in Korean, English, Chinese (later Japanese, and from October 22, 2014 recording in SPANISH is also underway)
  2. January 20, 2014: Level 2 in Korean, English, Chinese
  3. April 28, 2014: Level 3 in Korean
  4. August 25, 2014: Level 4 in Korean

The 4 levels in the “Quick Korean” course that cover grammar points up to TOPIK Level 4 and vocabulary up to TOPIK Level 3.

Although the course is officially “complete” at this time, it remains in constant development. Supplementary class materials like PDFs, audio downloads, and workbooks available for purchase from major online retailers are still being developed, and new language support is continually being added. From October 22, 2014 (little over a month ago), the first Spanish instructional videos have begun being recorded.

Impressive Numbers

Since the start of the “e-Learning Campaign” in 2007, the Cyber University of Korea has pushed through some impressive numbers of students. Equally impressive is the team of professors and scholars who are currently involved in the development of “Quick Korean.”

  1. 110,693 people have gone through CUK’s online Korean education since 2007
  2. This includes people from 71 countries
  3. and 705 cities around the world
  4. Each week there are between 50-100 new site registrations

The team of scholars includes professors from:

  1. The Cyber University of Korea
  2. Yonsei University
  3. Sogang University
  4. KyungHee University
  5. The Korea Association for Foreign Language Education (KAFLE)
  6. The Korea Grammar Education Circle
  7. The Applied Linguistics Association of Korea (ALAK)

And they are led by Professor Kishim Nam who is the former Director of The National Institute of the Korean Language.

Social Media

In addition to the online class itself, “Quick Korean” also has dedicated social media channels you can follow including:

  1. A YouTube channel (support by Google – agreement signed May 8, 2014)
  2. A Naver TVcast channel (support by Naver – agreement signed May 9, 2014)
  3. A Youku (Chinese YouTube) channel
  4. Facebook
  5. Twitter
  6. Google Plus

Breakdown of the Levels

Each of the lessons in “Quick Korean” follows a similar structure with 10 parts:

  1. An overview of the lesson objective
  2. A conversation
  3. New vocabulary
  4. The text
  5. A grammar lesson
  6. Speaking practice
  7. Listening practice
  8. Extra vocabulary
  9. A Culture section (teaching about various aspects of Korean culture)
  10. A lesson summary

For me, the Culture section is quite interesting as it reminds me of the 사회통합프로그램 (KIIP) that I participated in earlier this year. When Culture sections are included, it is apparent that programs like these want learners to achieve success not only in the language, but also in the finer aspects of integrating with the culture.

Levels are broken down like so:

  1. Level 1: 30 lessons (15 chapters in 2 parts) with 696 minutes of instruction (11.6 hours) in Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese
  2. Level 2: 30 lessons (15 chapters in 2 parts) with 773 minutes of instruction (12.9 hours) with Korean video and downloads in English as well (site in Chinese also)
  3. Level 3: 20 lessons with 585 minutes of instruction (9.75 hours) with Korean video
  4. Level 4: 13 lessons with 463 minutes of instruction (7.7 hours) with Korean video

All of this is current as of November 23, 2014. All told there are 93 lessons with 2,517 minutes of instruction (42 hours!).

  1. Level 1 seeks to teach learners the fundamentals of social interaction and daily activities
  2. Level 2 teaches expressing preferences, opinions, and location-based conversations
  3. Level 3 teaches topics of casual conversation such as work, family, and hobbies
  4. Level 4 teaches free and fluent speech and asserts that you’ll be able to give a public speech at the end of the course

The Process

Simply, the process to take this class is to:

  1. Go to the CUK “Quick Korean” website
  2. Register
  3. Login
  4. Watch the course videos one-by-one
  5. Take the online test
  6. Receive (and print if you wish) your certificate of completion

Tips for the Course

Can I skip right to the Level Tests?

Now, for anyone like me who has already passed TOPIK Level 2 and doesn’t need to run through the Level 1 course again, you CANNOT skip the videos and go straight to the test. You WILL have to click each video although you won’t have to watch them. So long as you click, it will be marked “Completed” and you can move on to the next one.

However, the Culture parts of each lesson are at least worth a watch. You may already be familiar with all of the culture introduced, but that section is short and it’s a good refresher.

The teacher speaks too slowly… I’m bored.

If you watch the videos in your native language (Level 1), you may find the instructor speaking slowly and clearly (and it may be boring). In order to deal with this problem and keep your focus and interest in the lesson, you have one of two choices:

  1. Watch the video entirely in KOREAN (it’s better for your practice anyway)
  2. Click the YouTube “Settings” gear wheel icon in the bottom-right of the player and INCREASE THE SPEED of the video to 1.5 or 2 times.

(The second tip is something I’ve learned to do when listening to audiobooks as well – it really helps keep me interested. You’ll notice that the speed of reading aloud or teaching is slightly slower than a typical natural conversation, so if you increase the speed of the instruction to a more conversational pace, you’ll be able to stay focused more easily.)

Getting a BA in Korean Language Teaching

Lastly, if you are interested in getting a Bachelor’s degree in Korean Language Teaching from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, you’ll need to apply to CUK as a regular student and enroll in their Korean Language Teaching program. Relevant links are below:

  1. Dept. of Korean Language (ENG)
  2. Dept. of Korean Language (KO) – more extensive and includes a video
  3. How to Apply (ENG)

Additional Resources

The following resources are freely available on the CUK’s website in the “Forums -> Notice & News” section, although they might not be easy to find without clicking every link. Therefore, I’ve included them here for your convenience:

  1. How to Use Quick Korean (PDF) – How to register for, login, take the class, and the tests
  2. Quick Korean Brochure (PDF) – Includes all the information in this post and PPT
  3. CUK – Quick Korean (PPT) – My PPT from above (you may need the Oswald font and the La Belle Aurore font for it to display properly)
  4. CUK – Quick Korean (PDF) – PDF of the same PPT, doesn’t require font installation

Arirang’s Special Report on “Quick Korean” from 2013:

Are you excited to learn Korean again?

So, 2015 is coming up! Whether or not you’ve been very consistent in 2014 with studying Korean, perhaps you’re more excited than ever to get back at it with this new FREE online course. I know I sure am. Let me know in the Comments if and when you plan to start learning with “Quick Korean.”

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31 thoughts

  1. Sounds like a great course, but the registration process seems to be malfunctioning. (Confirmation mail) Hopefully, they’ll fix it soon.

  2. After reading over some of the comments on Reddit, here’s what I posted over there:

    Wow!~ Had no idea so many people were having problems registering.

    Here’s another link to the PDF with registration instructions from the “Quick Korean” team: Registration Instructions

    And here’s a link to the FIRST screen you should see that allows you to choose “Domestic” or “Foreign”: Membership Sign-up Page

    Be sure that you “Check availability” (the gray button) for your email you want to use. Also be sure that you get a “You may use this E-mail” message beneath the box. Then, click CONFIRM to use that E-mail.

    I personally signed up in the “Domestic” side (I’m living in Jeonju, Korea), but the only difference between “Domestic” and “Foreign” is in the “Domestic” side, you need to “Agree to terms and conditions” but in the “Foreign” side, you don’t.

    I used Google Chrome and an email from my site, but I just tried with some emails also and got the “You may use this E-mail” message.

    Hopefully you can get it sorted. If not, maybe try contacting them. Their email is posted at the bottom of the site:

    They are also on:

    1. Twitter
    2. Facebook
    3. Google Plus
    4. YouTube
    5. NaverTV
    6. Youku
    1. Hello! I am from the US and I just discovered your article today and unfortunately it wont let me sign up at all I don’t know what to do!! I can get to the first screen (where I put my email name and country) but once I click to get to the next step It says the page doesn’t exsist. It says the same when I click login. I am using internet explorer because my other browser said It was a vintage website. What do you suggest I do??

      1. You might try emailing them directly. Also keep in mind that some of these sites and programs are undergoing active development, so some things may change or be broken from time to time. You might also try again a little later – give them some time to work some of the bugs out.

    2. It will not work for me It wont let me complete signup ethier!! Im from the US. Should I email the university?

      1. Yes, you might try that. There may be some Korean websites that purposefully try to limit registrations to users in Korea, or other sites that require Internet Explorer 6 only, but there’s also the fact that many of these sites are still undergoing active development, so there may be ongoing changes. If you want a direct answer, you might try emailing them.

  3. The registration process is still messed up. I get a message that a confirmation email will be sent to my email address but it never comes so I can never complete the registration process. So frustrating…

    1. Since it’s a Korean website, it’s not super surprising. For as modern as their mobile tech is, their Internet stuff is decades old. Even though the Cyber University of Korea is a newer site, there’s a good chance it still runs on older technology and design principles like the rest of the Korean websites. You know Koreans are still stuck on Internet Explorer 6 and ActiveX?

      That being said, if you can find a copy of Internet Explorer 6 or 7, you might try signing up using one of those legacy browsers and see what happens. Other people have told me they’ve tried to register from a number of different browsers and FINALLY got one of them to work (it seems to be different for everyone). For the MOST part, the sign-up seems to be OK (I signed up via Google Chrome on Mac). But sometimes there is an issue.

      One major thing you could check: after registering, do you get a pop-up window with a “Confirm” button or more details? I think the pop-up window is NECESSARY in the process in order to receive your confirmation email. Double-check that you are allowing pop-ups (don’t turn on any pop-up blockers), and then check your Spam folder in the email you entered. You could also try a different email address if you’re having problems with one. Use Gmail instead of Yahoo, or Hotmail instead of Gmail, for example.

      Those are all suggestions to (hopefully) help you get the confirmation email. Please reply back here if you get one method to work so that other people who are struggling with it can get help too.

  4. Update to my previous comment: I used the email contact that you helpfully included in your comment and the problem was fixed a couple of hours later which was really impressive considering the time difference (I’m in eastern U.S.). People having registration problems should send an email to the — it really works!
    Thanks for telling us about this site!

  5. Thanks for posting this post! Thank god that i stumbled upon this post! I have been wanting to find free online korean courses for a very long time!!! I am going to try the courses tmr. Hopefully it is beneficial 🙂

    1. Glad to be of service. I often try to find the best resources. Starting in 2016, I’ll rearrange some of this website to make things like this easier to find.

  6. Hi! Thank you for writing about this great resource! I seem to be having a little trouble taking the tests, though. I’ve tried 3 different browsers on 2 computers and the test questions won’t load. Did you have to download a certain plugin before you could take it? I tried to contact them and they told me that it’s the settings on my computer…

    1. Likely it is the settings on your computer. I had no trouble accessing it from Google Chrome the first time I tried. You might have JavaScript or Flash (or whatever they use to load the questions) blocked on your personal browser. Why don’t you try it on a school computer or public computer somewhere else? Those usually don’t have very custom settings set.

      My thought for websites built in Korea – if it doesn’t work, try it on the most generic public Korean computer possible.

      1. Sadly, I’ve tried it on both my work computer and a PC bang computer lol. I have no idea what the problem is. /: but thanks for the reply! I guess I’ll just keep trying.

  7. Hello,
    I am very interested in this program, I am so glad that I found this website. I have a couple of questions though:
    1) How long does this course lasts?
    2) Once I have register, do I have a period of time to complete each lesson? If I don’t complete it, will I be able to make it again?
    I really want to know this before I start the course. Again Thank you so much for this post!

    1. From what I can tell:
      1. The course lasts as long as you take to complete it.
      2. It seems that as long as you remember your ID and password, you can come back at any time to complete it.
      This may change later as the site further develops, but for now, this is how it appears.

  8. I’m so glad I found your website. I have a app on my phone that I have been practicing words with it. I’ve realy wanted to learn the Korean language. My ultimate goal is to take a trip to South Korea. I’ve seen videos on the culture and food. When I seen those I was excited to learn more. Then a friend introduce me to the music and K-Dramas which I’m hooked even more. I will be registering and will hopefully begin the studies next week. Thank you for this and I can’t wait to get started.

  9. Sir
    This is my pleasure to communicate with you to express my unbound interest about your University/educational institute. I’ve already completed my 4 years diploma engineering program majoring electrical engineering. After knowing about your institute I’m truly interested to start my educational horizon with yours. Before starting my undergraduate program I want to learn about your language first for the smooth and fruitful communication.
    I’ll be very glad if you please inform me about the course details of your language program, total cost, admission process and scholarship (if available). From henceforth, I’m looking forward to hear from you soon as possible.
    Mominur Rahman.
    Diploma Engineer

    +88017 2738 1860(cell)
  10. Hi, I was wondering that if I took this Korean language class, would I be able to use it as credit at my university?

    1. I don’t think the online course can be taken for credit. However, that University does seem to offer “classroom” courses as well that would probably be able to count for credit. You might need to investigate their site further for details.

  11. I was really excited to use this but then… The link in the post leads to a page that gives the error message “검색결과가 존재하지 않습니다.” The link in the PDF in your comment redirects to their YouTube page. Just thought I’d let you know.

    1. Thanks for letting me know. I’m sure there’s quite a bit of outdated information on this site right now. I haven’t had a lot of time recently to keep up with it. I’ll see if I can get some of it updated this summer though. Perhaps restructure things a bit as well.

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