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Title The Latest in Korean Language Education in Hong Kong
No 72 Inquiry 419 Date 2018.05.19

Situated in Hysan Place, a large shopping mall in Hong Kong’s commercial district Causeway Bay, is the city’s largest bookstore, Eslite. The store sells various domestic and foreign books. Surprisingly, in the foreign books section, one can find more textbooks for Korean language learning than you can even find at a large bookstore in Korea. It is interesting that such a wide variety of books on Korean language learning are being sold in Hong Kong, which has a population of around 7.4 million. In addition to textbooks published by Korean universities, there are so many books published by Hong Kong natives who teach the Korean language. Compared to a year ago, the number books on Korean language learning has increased about five-fold in Eslite’s Korean language section.


Sally, who is in her second year of learning Korean said, “Learning Korean has become easier as more textbooks allow easy and fun learning. Old books were dull and even seemed burdensome for learners, but the latest books are visually more entertaining, and many of my friends are happy with them.” Kim Ji-yeon, who has taught Korean in Hong Kong for nearly five years, said, “The old books stressed grammar rather than conversations and therefore often put a strain on students. For students other than those preparing to take the Korean language exam, I have changed the textbooks to make the class atmosphere lighter and more comfortable.”


Mickey, who is developing Korean language textbooks as he works as a Korean instructor after learning the language in Korea for four years and in Hong Kong for two years, said, “I felt the change in the Korean language education market as I visited China and Taiwan for market research.” According to Mickey, surprisingly diverse textbooks had been released as the demand and supply for Korean language in mainland China and Taiwan. Books that reflect daily conversations among young Koreans, Hallyu, or lines in popular Korean dramas were on the rise, he said. Some Taiwanese textbooks are so popular they are being used in Korean language schools in Hong Kong, Mickey said. “There are many good textbooks in Korea, but because Cantonese is the mother tongue in Hong Kong, books that provide accurate explanations in Cantonese are welcomed here. I am focusing on accurate explanations in Cantonese in our new textbook.”


Hong Kong college student Yuki, who recently started learning Korean, is taking time to choose from the many private institutions that teach the Korean language. The number of Korean language schools in Hong Kong has more than doubled from about 20 schools four years ago. Local universities such as
the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University run programs for Korean language majors and minors. As for private institutions, courses with diverse content are offered to meet the student’s needs. Since Yuki started learning Korean to understand Korean dramas and K-pop, she said she is looking for schools that focus on Korean culture and daily conversations. “Some instructors are called ‘star instructors’ for interesting lessons and positive student feedback. They are so popular that students are waitlisted for about a month to join their classes. The level of demand for Korean language in Hong Kong has really changed,” she said.


Annie, a Korean language instructor in Hong Kong, said, “Upgraded Korean education materials of high quality are constantly published, and Korean instructors who can speak multiple languages or conduct lectures well are on the rise, starting a new wave of competition in Korean language education in Hong Kong. The students have a wider choice, and the instructors are working harder to develop their teaching skills, and I believe Korean education in Hong Kong has entered a new stage of development.”




Various Korean language teaching materials sold in a Hong Kong bookstore. (Source: Lee Sung-hwa)


Lee Sung-hwa (Correspondent of KOFICE in Hong Kong)