First off, a bit of background: one of my goals is to learn Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Yes, all three. Yes, I know it’s kinda crazy. Anyway, as part of this goal, I originally planned to start learning basic Korean or Japanese as soon as I attained an advanced level in Mandarin Chinese.
Actually, I will be re-taking Intermediate Level 6 (out of 6) at the Confucius Institute in Ateneo Professional Schools, Makati next week in order to further polish my skills before proceeding to the Advanced classes. So, not quite at the advanced level—yet.
Regardless of which, I decided, against sanity and the advice of some people, to enroll in a Basic Korean class at the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines. On the same day. Chinese in the morning and Korean in the afternoon. Saturday was the only schedule that was feasible for me due to my work schedule. I’m not yet sure if this would cause some linguistic confusion but I hypothesize that it would not due to the level disparity. Well, let’s see how it plays out.
For now, let’s just focus on these two government-supported institutes. Having attended classes at the Confucius Institute for over a year now, I’ve noticed some differences in their approaches, which I’ll talk about in this post. This is not about which one is better; I’m simply contrasting them should you be interested in learning Chinese or Korean from these institutions.
Korean Cultural Centers are “non-profit institutions aligned with the Government of South Korea that aim to promote Korean culture and facilitate cultural exchanges.” KCC Philippines is the 20th one and was established in 2011.
Confucius Institutes are non-profit public institutions aligned with the Government of the People’s Republic of China that aim to promote Chinese language and culture, support local Chinese teaching internationally, and facilitate cultural exchanges.
Here in Metro Manila, Confucius Institute (CI) is hosted by the Ateneo Professional Schools in Salcedo Village, Makati.
KCC Philippines is located in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
As government-subsidized non-profit institutions, the fees for both are quite cheap, at least compared to private language schools.
As of September 2013, the registration fee for CI basic, intermediate, and advanced language classes is Php4200 for one cycle, excluding books. Books vary in price depending on the course, but for Intermediate classes, it’s Php400.
At KCC, the fee is Php2000 for one cycle including materials.
One cycle of language classes at CI is 30 hours. For Saturday classes, that means 10 sessions at 3 hours each.
KCC’s basic language class is 27-32 hours while its elementary and intermediate classes are 60-72 hours. For the Saturday Basic class, that’s 11 sessions at 3 hours each.
At KCC, there is a separate orientation day for all the classes that is not counted as an actual class. My general impression is that they are a bit more formal and rules oriented. No food and drinks are allowed inside classes (except perhaps for the Cooking class), handouts are given with a detailed list of the session dates and lessons to be discussed on each session.
CI seems a bit more relaxed, though it could be because we’re already in the intermediate classes. In my classes at CI, students would routinely bring food to share with the class. At the last day of class, it’s also common for the teacher to also bring some food to celebrate the last day. It’s also up to the assigned teacher to orient the students on the first day.
Last Day of Class
At CI, the last session activity varies from cycle to cycle. It would typically either be a quiz bee or speech contest.
According to the orientation, there’s a class presentation on the last day of class. There’s also a final exam that determines whether students would get a certificate of excellence.
Teaching Approach and Course Selection
I’ve only attended one session of one course at KCC, so it’s not enough data for me to make an observation with regards to actual teaching approach. At the very least, both institutes aim to instill reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, and provide a myriad of culture and language courses to achieve their mission.
Get More Information
So, interested in learning yet? These two institutes provide an inexpensive but effective way to learn languages. As for Japanese, I don’t have any experience yet to share with you, but when I do, I will post it as part 2 of this article.
Both Ateneo CI and KCC Philippines have websites and Facebook pages, so go and have a look, and see you at the classes!