How are the students at University of Denver learning Korean?

There are few American graduate students choosing to learn Korean, because Josef Korbel School of International Studies (Korbel) at University of Denver (DU) requires its graduate students to speak one foreign language fluently in order to graduate from Korbel, and they are learning Korean with limited sources at DU.

DU requires all the undergraduate students to take three classes of one foreign language and it doesn’t require graduate students to learn foreign languages, but the graduate students at Korbel are required to choose one foreign language they like to learn. They have to pass the test of the foreign language they choose at Korbel in order to graduate.

However, some languages are not offered by DU, such as, Korean. The sources for Korean at DU are limited: No regular classes are offered and currently there is only one language partner for students at the Center for World Languages and Cultures (CWLC) that students can practice with.

Although there are people learning Korean in the U.S., the enrollments of Korean are very low. At DU, there are only three students learning Korean according to the CWLC. Through the survey, Enrollments in Languages Other Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2009, by Modern Language Association (MLA), from 2002 to 2006, the number of Americans who were learning Korean increase by 37.1 percent; from 2006 to 2009, this number increased by 19.1 percent. Korean was one of the top 15 commonly taught languages. Korean course enrollments were 8,511 in the U.S. in 2009 and Spanish course enrollments were on the first place with 864,986.

The sources for Korean at DU are limited: No regular classes are offered and currently there is only one language partner for students at CWLC that students can practice with.

Why do American students learn Korean at DU?

Students at DU learn Korean based on their interests in Asia and also, students at Korbel are required to learn a foreign language. Students cannot graduate if they do not pass a foreign language test at Korbel.

David Frich, graduate student majoring in International Security at Korbel, went to Korea to teach middle school English from August 2009 to August 2010. After this experience, he started to learn Korean from July 2011, because he is interested in Korea and wants to find a job in Korea after graduation.

“I like Korean culture. Also, it’s important to learn a foreign language. I want to find a job related to my major in Korea and it is required to know Korean,” Frich said.

Derek Sarchet, graduate student majoring in International Study at Korbel, began to learn Korea a year and half ago and he went to Korea to teach kids English a year ago before graduate school.

“I originally chose Korean because I did know that much about it, and you can get paid well to teach English in Korean. I think it is interesting because of North Korea,” Sarchet said.

Sarchet’s girlfriend is Korean. She helps Sarchet a lot with Korean.

Seunghyun Lee, Junior, an international student from Korea, is the current Korean language partner working at CWLC to help students with Korean. He said Children in Korea begin to learn English since primary school, but for English learning in Korea, generally, they are only required on English writing and listening, because there are few native speakers in schools in Korea to help children with their speaking. Thus, native English speakers get paid well in Korea.

How do American students learn Korean at DU?

Students have to register Korean online classes at University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) in order to learn Korean, because DU doesn’t offer any regular Korean classes. They register for Korean classes based on their levels of Korean by a speaking test via Skype. Then, they meet the Korean professor from CU Boulder at DU and the language partner to make a study plan based on each student at the beginning of the quarter.

The Korean language partner is helping Frich with Korean.

Students need to read Korean textbook and do the exercises on the workbook in order to take tests and do homework online through the whole quarter. Also, they seek for help with Korean at CWLC at DU.

Korean learning at CWLC at DU

There are posters at Korbel of leaning Korean at CWLC. Korean online classes through the website of CU Boulder cooperates with the CWLC to help students learn Korean.

The online classes at CU Boulder are the zero-credit classes and CWLC offers Independent Study. The language partner, who helps students with their questions in Korean during Independent Study, helps the Korean professor to give the grades to students.

CWLC hires Korean student at DU as a language partner to help students with their questions about Korean.  The language partner helps the Korean professor at CU Boulder to check students’ work and gives grades on their homework.

“This form of learning Korean is more flexible and customized. It is less pressure for them, because this is a zero-credit class. Also, I offer different ways to help them with Korean based on each student’s level and their needs. Students have more time than regular language classes on practicing speaking with each other. We can discuss more information about Korean culture and history, which help them understand the way of speaking Korean better,” he said.

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