Korean is one of the most fascinating languages in the world and with the global attention of K-Pop, more and more people are interested in learning the Korean language, ‘Hangul’. Even here in the city of Barcelona, 12 hours away from South Korea, there is a Korean school where people can take Hangul classes. Located next to the Sagrada Familia cathedral, The Korean School of Barcelona has a rich history of educating 2nd generation Spanish-Korean children as well as local Spanish people who have an interest in learning Korean as a second language.
|[Students celebrating Chuseok, a major harvest festival of South Korea.
Photo courtesy of Yujin Choi]
Since 1991, the Korean School of Barcelona has taught students for 29 years. From educating young children to adults, the school offers Korean classes of various levels. Younger students are put into 5 different classes where they not only learn Hangul but also various aspects of the Korean culture. Elementary school students would start by learning the Korean alphabet and basic vocabulary, then move onto grammar and building sentences. They also learn about topics including national festivals of Korea, issues regarding the island of Dokdo, March 1st movement, Seollal, traditional Korean folklore and so on. For example, on Chuseok students gather with teachers to play tradition Korean games such as Yut Nori and Jegichagi while eating songpyeon.
The adult classes are divided into 4 levels, depending on the student’s fluency in Korean. These classes are mainly for Spanish people who want to learn Korean as a second language. Like the classes for young children, students get a chance to not only learn Hangul but also familiarize themselves with the Korean culture.
|[Interview with Yuchan Choi (on the left). Photo courtesy of Hyunil Ahn]|
The school faculty members are mostly Koreans living in Barcelona, who have experience in the field of teaching. There are also student volunteer workers who come to assist classes. I had the opportunity to interview Yuchan Choi, the assistant teacher for the kindergarten class. When asked about her experience teaching Korean to young children, she replied that “Overall, it was a great experience. It was amazing to watch these children grow and improve their Korean. It was really satisfying.” Regarding the difficulties in teaching, she said that “Since the children were young, it was difficult to teach them that the classroom is a learning environment. Of course, it is also a place to have fun! But sometimes children would forget about learning and run around during class time. Instead of scolding them, we always tried our best to help them focus.” Yuchan emphasized that teaching Korean for young children was a great experience and she was able to learn a lot from the children as well.
|[Happy School life. Photo courtesy of Ji Yeon Song]|
From the local schools in South Korea to the Korean School of Barcelona, Hangul is being taught all over the world. This shows that even though children are born and raised in different countries, language and cultures can be loved. Hangul and Korean culture will always remain in the hearts of the students.
American School of Barcelona
Yujin Choi firstname.lastname@example.org
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