Geum Yi

[LA Times] Korean-language classes are growing in popularity at US colleges

April 1, 2015


(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)


When Olivia Hernandez was a middle schooler in Oxnard, she became hooked on K-wave — the global phenomenon of South Korean pop music, television and culture. Inspired by the romantic series “My Lovely Sam Soon” and bands like Clazziquai, she taught herself the Korean alphabet and learned a few phrases.

This year, as a UCLA transfer student, Hernandez jumped at the chance to take an introductory Korean language class. She and other students are learning grammar basics and the honorifics used to address elders and bosses. As a sweetener, the class usually watches a Korean rock music video, which they once might have appreciated only for the melodies and production values.

“Now I understand what they are saying. Now it makes sense,” said Hernandez, a psychology major who wants to use her Korean language skills when she becomes a therapist.

According to a recent national study, enrollment in Korean language courses at U.S. colleges and universities showed the largest percentage growth of any foreign language. The Modern Language Assn. reported that Korean language enrollment rose 45% from 2009 to 2013. Overall, language studies declined by 6.7% during that same period, and interest dropped in many popular ones, including Spanish, French and German.