Foreign and International Kindergartens in Korea

In Korea, there are a wide variety of kindergartens that you can choose from for your daughter or son to attend. Foreign kindergartens are very popular among expat families who come from English-speaking countries. While there are some foreign kindergartens in different languages (like German), the majority of them are geared towards English speakers. Foreign kindergartens are the number one institution that English-speaking families enrol their children in for the school year or the duration of the time in Korea. The main reason for this is that having your child attend a foreign kindergarten ensures that they don’t get behind their educational timeline in their home country. Even if it’s a temporary or a permanent move, a lot of parents want their child to go through a curriculum from England or the U.S. and so on. If you and your family are only going to be in Korea for a couple years and plan on returning to your home country, then you will probably want to ensure that your child has a smooth transition in their education for both coming and leaving Korea.


Language barriers can also be a major reason why expat families tend to enrol their children in English-speaking schools as that can help alleviate a lot of the stress when moving to a new country. Attending Korean public schools or an alternative school in Korean can be a problem. Your child could also lose his or her English skills, potentially when starting at younger ages like Kindergarten. The one upside would be that they would be able to work towards being bilingual, a possibly important skill for their future workplace. However, many foreign kindergartens are part of a large system going up to the 12 grade or senior year depending on the system that includes learning a second and sometimes a third language. You could also sign up your child for Korean language classes separately at a hagwon. There are many Korean language hagwons located in major locations like Gangnam and near universities. While the majority of students are older, you can hire a private tutor for your kindergartener. 


On a separate note, while there are an inordinate number of English kindergartens run through the Korean-style after school private institutions called Hagwons, they are not geared for English speakers. There are a lot of them available for signing up for intensive English learning for kindergarteners, and they are meant for Korean children to get a jumpstart on their English learning. It’s very rare to see a native English speaker attend a hagwon unless the family is Korean and has already spent a significant amount of time abroad. The lesson plans for these hagwons are probably cover material that a native English speaker at the same would have already learned or would already intuitively know. So while there are far fewer foreign/international kindergartens in Korea, they are geared towards English-speaking families with native English students.


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