Since March 2020, most of us have learned to cope with the new unprecedented environment after the coronavirus hit. Even though most scholarship programs were not canceled, the programs were either halted or adapted to a new situation.
Andita Riyani was ready to embark on her new challenge to join the annual summer school at Inha University before the pandemic started. She was looking forward to learning Korean culture and language and experiencing summer in South Korea. Learning Korean language was her long-term plan to prepare to pursue an Undergraduate Degree in Korean universities and after refusing to give up, she signed up for online language courses to step up her game.
So the big question becomes: how can you learn, practice, and apply the knowledge when you are learning from home? In this article, Andita, an aspiring researcher on East Asian studies & language enthusiasts, will share tips to survive distance language learning with universities in South Korea as learn-from-home students. In the past year, Andita and I have taken Korean language courses from several language courses based in Korean universities with different levels of classes and types of skills.
Setting up the mood by ‘exploring’ the campus
“When I knew that I wouldn’t be in South Korea (yet) physically, I need to build motivation to learn by exploring the campus online,” Andita said.
In 2020, Andita started putting her wish list to take different online trial classes from different universities. To build the mood, she explored the universities virtually to build her motivation. Andita was in the stage of preparation for her long-term study in Korea when the pandemic hit. Although she visited the country, but she did not have the experience of studying in Korea prior.
“Since I will need TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) level four to graduate from Korean universities in undergraduate level, later on, I knew that learning Korean will be a long journey. As I could not be physically in South Korea, I needed to build strong motivation to keep learning. When I look at the pictures of universities I am attending, I could picture myself walking around in the campus and that made me hopeful,” said Andita while sharing the picture of Inha University during the virtual conversation.
Andita wants to take both of her language class and undergraduate program in Inha University which therefore she has a lot of interest in the campus. She took this approach especially if she found challenging to keep the motivation and it has been helpful to keep her learning Korean language independently.
Forming a study group with the classmates
One of the things we have the advantage of when learning in class is to network. Learning a language means a lot of practice and in normal circumstances, practicing with classmates may help to learn the language faster. How do we possibly do this from our room?
“Forming and joining the language community was helpful for me,” said Andita. “Last year, I started taking the beginner level for Korean language from courses offered by Hanyang University and I joined language community I found through Facebook,” she further explained.
Just because we are not physically in the country (yet) due to countless reasons, we can take the advantage of online gatherings. In Korea, there are countless communities where we can practice the language online.
“As the pandemic seems to be endless, we may not have a clear timeline of when we can finally be in the country physically. Joining the language community can help to build friendship with other students even before coming to the country,” she added.
Pandemic should not halt the long-term dream
According to the report of International Labour Organization (ILO), 65% of young people have reported learning less since the pandemic began, noting the transition from classroom to online and distance learning.
Andita is one of those young people that could potentially lost her opportunity to pursue her long dream to study abroad. While studying itself has already been challenging at this time, taking distance learning is a way to cope with the current situation and to keep her on track.
Although learners may not be able to physically attend the classes in the country, it should not discount the appreciation of the efforts taken during the pandemic. Finding different creative ways from even from the distance may help us to stay on track. When the time is right to attend the classes physically, it will help to be more than prepared in coping with the new environment.