Studying abroad to learn English: My thoughts on Yuhak (유학)

If you've watched Sky castle, a very controversial story of students spending millions to learn and get all the necessary requirements to score a spot in a university, then this is probably one of the reasons why Yuhak exists. What are your thoughts on studying abroad at an early age? Here's mine:

Maybe at around 11 or 15 years old going to a foreign land without your parents and you'll be living for two months together with children probably of the same age as yours who'd like to learn English? It sounds fun and disturbing at the same time, isn't it? Let me share with you some of the things that you should expect when doing Yuhak (studying abroad).

What is Yuhak?

Yuhak (meaning studying abroad) is a learning system practiced by Korean students from elementary to university and even graduate students, to study abroad during winter break and learn English. Some of the most common destinations to do Yuhak are the Philippines, United States, United Kingdom, and Canada.

This learning system also requires a student to live in a certain house or dormitories with students that have the same goal as them and have regular schooling in academies for weekdays and special activities once in a while.

Study Time

You might think that it is easy but Yuhak is harder than it is when you are in Korea. In fact, students need to be at the academy from 8am /9am to 4pm or 5pm. This is almost the same as the regular class time in Korea. At home, they still have tutoring time and class hours for mathematics and English and additional hours for their homework usually ending their study time at around 10pm onwards.

Yuhak usually involves 2-3 subjects only compared to the regular classes in South Korea. Of course, the highlight is English which is the main reason why most Korean students study abroad. Compared to the regular English classes in Korea, what they learn there are mostly related to grammar while they practice the speaking part abroad. They also do English, Korean (which they claim to be really difficult for its grammar), and Mathematics so that they are prepared with the upcoming school classes.

This type of learning process is something that I could compare to Singapore's current learning system wherein students go to academies as a supplementary class after their regular classes. Supplementary classes don't just end with school subjects. It also involves learning a new skill or sport.

Other Activities

Yuhak is not all about studying, it involves time for learning. After their academy, they are given free time to do special activities such as dance classes, home activities, sports, and other activities that requires them to practice their listening and speaking skills since its the main goal of the program.

Free Time

This is something that I want to highlight. Children are still children and they often wish to have free time. It's important that children also have free time so that they won't feel that studying is always something that burdens them. During free time, students are involved in active play and it brings them closer to one another.

In fact, what I love about it is that they could freely talk to us and ask random things about anything that they could think of under the sun. We go out, buy random snacks in a store, talk about people, things, etc. They vent out their difficulties and I encourage them to try harder so they won't give up easily.

Free time is also learning time. They learn from me, I learn from them. They share their culture and I share mine. During this Yuhak, I get to learn random things about how they normally live, their interests, and the things they are curious about.


If there is something that the students hate the most, it's the diary time because it requires them to write something new about their monotonous day in the academy and at home. Though there are actual times that the students write something personal and something special about his or her experiences for the day. One of my students wrote this entry when I went home because I got sick. My role is to check the grammar and sentence construction but I am glad to see how this student appreciates me as her teacher and finds the day totally different when I'm not around.

Fun Time

I go for the reward and punishment system so when the students could finish their work earlier, they have more time to play and take a rest. Fun time also means weekends and celebrations whenever they pass a level test, perfect an exam or someone celebrates a birthday!



Wondering what type of food they eat? They have a house parent that cooks the food and prepares the house for them during mealtime, their living room during review time, and their bedrooms once they are at the academy. Only means the only thing that's left to do is to study. As their teacher, I live with them during the weekdays and I got really familiar with Korean food further because of this.

The food served on them is usually Korean food and they follow the traditional Korean table setting having regular meals and the side dishes. Commonly, these types of dishes are the ones that fit the taste of the children and the first rule is to always have the food appealing on the eyes. Though they are children, it's not really difficult to feed them with vegetables and that's a good thing. Koreans learned how to eat vegetables as their side dish ever since they were young.

Yep, they are not allowed to use their phones so whenever I bring down my phone, some of my students would take selfies and I'll just be surprised to see their faces in my phone's gallery. Upon their arrival in the Philippines, their phones have been locked down in a cabinet and the only way that they could communicate with their parents is during weekends wherein they use Kakaotalk to call them.