SNU NOW / Newsroom


Newsroom /


Spreading the Value of Culture: the SNU Language Education Institute

Oct 25, 2019

The Language Education Institute, boasting a rich history of 56 years since its inauguration in 1963, represents SNU’s ongoing effort to enhance the level of language education in Korea. Consisting of 180 staff members across five different centers, the institute strives for excellence in Korean language education for foreigners, foreign language education for SNU members, development of public certification tests to evaluate language abilities, and academic research in language education.

SNU LEI Foreign Language Education Center provides not only a rich selection of language courses but also translation and editing services for SNU members, providing a gateway for research at SNU to gain recognition on a global platform. While the Foreign Language Education Center provides services for the home community, the Korean Language Education Center is geared toward Korean learners.

Approximately 3000 students from 110 countries visit the Center annually to learn Korean language and culture. During the annual ‘Korean Language and Culture Learning Program for Diplomats,’ dignitaries and other members of the diplomatic community from various parts of the world come to learn Korea’s rich culture. “It’s a pleasure to teach our language to people with such passion for learning about Korea,” said Lee Jihoon of the Korean Language Education Center.

SNU LEI is also in charge of developing the Test of English Proficiency developed by Seoul National University (TEPS), which is widely recognized as a reliable tool for evaluating English proficiency. Now in its 20th year, TEPS was designed to overcome the limitations of other tests in which students can get high scores just by memorizing simple tricks. TEPS is now used to assess eligibility for various public and private organizations as well as admission or graduation at universities. “Since TEPS is a public certification test, there’s no room for error,” said Cho Hyunmi of the TEPS Center. “We always aim for perfection.”

The LEI is also developing similar language tests for Japanese, Chinese, German, Russian, French, and Spanish. According to Myung Minjung of the Language Test Center, the SNU language tests “not only assess language ability but also evaluates whether the student has an understanding of the cultural context.”

The LEI’s academic research division, headed by Professor Lee Ho-Young (Department of Linguistics), publishes Language Research, one of Korea’s leading linguistics journals. It also develops customized course materials for each department, as well as its own materials for effective language education.

Each center, distinct in its function, shares the common vision of increasing the quality of language education in SNU and beyond. “I’ve always believed that language is more than just a means for communication,” Chang Jiyoon from the Foreign Language Education Center said. “Language is culture, and I take great pride in spreading the value of culture around the world.”

Source: 서울대 사람들
Written by Chae Hyun Kim, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,