Some of you may know that from about 2012, I studied the Korean language for about 5 years and then stopped because the lesson proceeded far too slowly for me. The school was KVillage and I attended the main school at Korean Town, Shin-Okubo.
The lesson costs 500 yen an hour and my class was 2 hours per week so we were paying 1,000 yen per lesson. On top of that, we also had to pay 500 yen registration fee every month, so for 4 lessons in a month, we were paying 4,500 yen. That’s a very good price. But, with the cheap price, comes the quality.
I’m not saying the teachers are not good at teaching. They are pretty good and the textbook is decent. But there are some things I don’t like about the school, which may have been an issue with the specific teachers I learned from and not representative of the entire school. But then again, whose review is not based on their own experiences with specific people under specific circumstances?
One of the things I didn’t like about the class was that the teacher often spend a good amount of time speaking in Japanese about unrelated topics. Sometimes, I head down for the two-hour class and end up being taught for only 30 minutes. So during those times, I was really paying 1,000 yen for 30 minutes. Many times, however, she spends at least 30 to 60 minutes speaking in Japanese which is simply a waste of time for me.
On top of that, I’ve mentioned many times that the biggest problem I find is that, the class is usually only 6 people and if half the class doesn’t turn up (which happens very often), the teacher will choose to not proceed and only do reviews of previous lessons. I know I’ve complained about this in earlier posts before but this really irks me because I, too, am a paying customer. Why should I give up my opportunity to learn just because other people are lazy? The right thing to do is to make those who miss classes try to catch up by themselves to incentivize class attendance and not reward absence.
The other thing is, the school claims they offer make up lessons if you miss class. But this is not entirely accurate. Because since every teacher proceeds at different pace based on the speed of the laziest person in their class, almost no classes are proceeding at the same pace, so your make up lesson is very often a review of a previous class and you end up still missing the part you already missed.
When we finish a few chapters or the textbook, the teacher chooses to do the whole thing all over again which just feels like a scam on students. An example of my experience was that, the teacher would do Chapters 1-5 and then repeat Chapter 1-5. Then she would move on to Chapters 6-10 and repeat 1-10. This goes on until the end of the textbook at Chapter 20. Then she would do from Chapters 1-20 all over again.
One of the most ridiculous things I’ve experienced was that the textbook series we were meant to do had levels:
But when we finished Elementary 2, they actually inserted volume 3 of a textbook from an entirely unrelated series in between because, in their words, “many students complained that the level between Elementary 2 and Intermediate 1 was too great.” What!?
When we finally finished the extra textbook and went back to Intermediate 1 of the original series, I found that the Intermediate 1 textbook wasn’t much different than the unrelated textbook and wasn’t that great a jump in difficulty from Elementary 2 either. But okay, this is just my opinion.
About 2 years after leaving my Korean language studies, I decided to return to KVillage again but this time in Yokohama, and taking private 1-on-1 classes instead. Now, the price has gone up due to some structural changes, and on top of that, I’m taking private classes, so I’m actually paying about 5,000 yen per lesson. Very expensive to be honest.
Before I left the school some 2 years ago, the payment structure already changed in that, they no longer accept payments by cash and require everyone to pay by GIRO (auto bank deduction). For you to quit the school, you have to submit a form of withdrawal 2 months in advance. When I asked why, I was told that because it takes 2 months for them to cancel the auto bank deduction process. That sounded fair to me.
When I registered for the class this time, I handed over my ATM card but they said they no longer accept Yuucho ATM cards because they faced errors in deduction for this bank, so they told me I could pay by cash instead. This made me assume that the 2-month notice for withdrawal from school is not applicable to me. But when I tried to withdraw this time, they said I needed to serve a 2-month notice. I couldn’t understand and asked why that is so, because it doesn’t make sense since there is no process required to cancel any payments. They said because that’s in the rules and regulations. I asked, “so there’s no particular reason for this rule except for the fact that it’s in the rules and regulations?” They replied, “Yes.”
KVillage 1: Me 0
Now, why did I decide to quit the school again just barely 3 months after returning? The school actually has a good system similar to what GABA has. You will be given an account and can login online to check the teacher’s available slots and make your reservations there. This is so convenient! Or so I thought.
Each time after class, my teacher would ask me when I would like to attend the next lesson. We would discuss on the spot and decide on a time. She would then tell me, “please remember to book online or else it wouldn’t count.” I said okay and I would do that.
But everything changed when there was once I had to go for a business trip scheduled to return on a Thursday. I told her I can only do Friday night and we agreed on that. She then told me to book online as always. But I wasn’t sure if I could attend, so I decided to wait till I was certain I could before booking. When I returned on Thursday night, I was so tired, I decided to text her the next morning out of courtesy that I couldn’t attend class on Friday night. Then, she replied that I have to pay for class because I cancelled on the same day of the class. I was stumped.
I replied, “but I didn’t book, why do I have to pay?” Remember, she said it doesn’t count if I don’t book, so why do I have to pay for a lesson I didn’t book? And if I didn’t book, there’s nothing for me to cancel. She then replied me with a few very long texts saying that since she is also responsible for not checking, I will not be required to pay this time. She also told me to text her over LINE next time if I would like to change the schedule we agreed upon and discuss with her when I could book. I was annoyed. The online booking system is supposed to be convenient for us, why has it become even more inconvenient?
I told her, “It’s ok. From now on, let’s not discuss my next lesson schedule after class. I will make reservations online at my own convenience, and if the slot I want gets booked by somebody else, that’s okay, because it’s my responsibility to book early if I want a particular slot.” That is also the system GABA uses. But she said, “No, we cannot do that, because other students discuss with me and I open the slot for them. So, even if my slot is available online, it is open for other students to book. You cannot book it.”
That was the last straw. I decided I’m not going to stay with this school anymore as there is no longer any merit to me staying with them. I take on 2 big freelance assignments which already take up 6 full days of my week and on top of that, I also do several other smaller assignments. I do not want to spend unnecessary time discussing something that can be done simply with the existing system. Besides, it costs me 5,000 yen per lesson and I have to travel to Yokohama, and am unable to quit the school immediately due to the meaningless 2-month notice. I can easily find other cheaper alternatives and the teachers can come closer to where it is convenient for me.
All in all, apart from the actual teaching of the material, which I have to give credit to the school, there is nothing I like about the school. But if you’re still interested to give it a try, I’d say go ahead. You might like it because for all I know, I’m the weird one.