CSU to offer Korean course, hopes for East Asian languages major

Ceci Taylor

With increased interest in Korean pop culture in the United States, those wanting to learn the language at Colorado State University will now have that opportunity.

Starting this fall semester, CSU will be offering a first-year Korean class. Kate Kim, who is currently a Japanese instructor at CSU, will be teaching the class.

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According to Kim, the class will consist of introductory Korean language lessons, as well as lessons about Korean culture. Kim said she will be inviting Korean people to volunteer in the classroom, and she hopes that CSU students will be able to make friends and connect with the Korean community in Fort Collins.

The new Korean class is ready for students to enroll in now for the coming semester.

“My goal is, after one year of learning, a student can go to Korea and enjoy Korean culture,” Kim said.

Korean is becoming an important language to learn, mainly because of its location, Kim said.

“Chinese and Japanese are really popular, but Korea is located in the middle of China and Japan,” Kim said. “If you learn Korean, you can go to Japan and China and understand East Asian history; it can be really helpful.”

Kim also said in America, Korean is becoming popular to learn because of the interest in Korean culture. Kim said Korean pop music and Korean dramas, for example, are becoming well-known in America.

“Maybe, for people who love Korean songs and dramas, their lives will be more abundant if they know Korean,” Kim said. “They can really learn a lot more about Korean culture.”

Kim said even her own kids are able to speak better Korean because of their love of Korean songs and TV shows, such as “Running Man.” She said the same goes for other students who are also interested in Korean entertainment.

“We should teach the students who already love and enjoy the language and culture,” Kim said. “I’m really excited to teach because the students already know the basics.”

In addition to the new Korean class, the department of languages, literatures and cultures hopes to one day add a major concentration in East Asian Languages. Jun Xu, who teaches Chinese and Japanese at CSU, hopes the major would allow students to learn about multiple cultures and the basics of Korean, Japanese and Chinese.

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“These countries have a lot in common,” Xu said. “All three of them culturally influence each other, both historically and currently.”

Xu said learning East Asian languages and culture is becoming increasingly important in America, adding that Asia has a large economic impact on America and learning the language can benefit those in these industries.

“Even culturally, Asia has a big impact. I was surprised to see (Korean Pop group) BTS at the Grammys … the film ‘Bao’ at the Oscars, that’s Chinese culture,” Xu said. “To understand this business, you definitely need to understand its people.”

Mary Vogl, chair of the department of languages, literatures & cultures, said the department still has many obstacles to overcome.

“One of the challenges is the low enrollment in Chinese courses,” Vogl said.

Xu said another challenge is the low faculty that are able to teach East Asian languages and the lack of teachers who could potentially teach cultural courses in English.

“Right now, we need more support from above,” Xu said.

Vogl said she hopes the new Korean course could be a step in the right direction and that they’d love to continue offering it. She said it’s up to the students to want to continue to take the course.

Vogl said she’s grateful for the staff who work hard to get programs such as these up and running. Vogl said Kim went to two conferences to get a better idea about the Korean course.

“It’s really touching to see what great teachers we have in this department,” Vogl said.

Ceci Taylor can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @cecelia_twt.