Learn Korean (or any language) in Seoul without Spending a Penny

Being an ESL teacher in Seoul, South Korea, it was a priority for me to get a better understanding of the language and culture of the area. My Korean was not up to the standards I wanted it to be, so I began researching ways to improve it without hiring a tutor or going to classes—or anything that would cost. The key is finding a language exchange partner, and I discovered that there are tons of opportunities to do this, if you know where to look.

  • Itaewon
    There is no better place in Seoul than the Itaewon district to meet and interact with people from across the globe. The district is known for its high international population—and if you spend time here you’re sure to run into others that are eager to learn about and experience new cultures and languages. Walking along the streets you’ll find clothing stores and restaurants featuring apparel and cuisine from all over the world. Stop into one of the popular bars like 3 Alley Pub or hang out at What the Book bookstore’s café to meet internationals and talk about language exchange!

  • Hongdae
    Known for its art and music, this vibrant university area is filled with creative individuals open to learning new things. The unique atmosphere attracts a great deal of travellers, English as a Second Language teachers, and artists, making it the perfect area to find others interested in language exchange. The local cafés Anthracite Coffee Roasters and Eunhasu Dabang or the Hongdae Freemarket, where artists and visitors come together for discourse, are great places to meet people.

  • The Language Exchange Café
    Meetup is a great way to connect online with others with mutual interests. In fact, Seoul even has its own Meetup group specifically for language exchange! The Language Exchange Café is a hub for over six languages, with 80+ people of varying nationalities meeting three days a week. All language levels are welcome, and you’ll find a friendly community of individuals seeking to teach and to learn.

  • Language Exchange Websites
    A great way to find a language exchange partner is to make use of websites designed to make your search easy! Websites like LRNGO allow you to input information on languages you know, those you would like to learn, and your location to compile a list of matches for you to contact.

  • Interest Groups
    Getting to know people is key to finding a language exchange partner. Seoul is home to many shared interest groups, from refugee support groups to hiking clubs, so you’re sure to find a group whose passions align with yours. Most groups include both native Koreans and foreigners, making it ideal for meeting a language exchange partner.

Photo Credit: Mario Sánchez Prada

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