At OneWorld Now!, we’ve always strived to bring critical languages to students who aren’t able to access those languages in schools. After thirteen years of teaching just two languages—Arabic and Mandarin Chinese—we’ve decided to add a third: Korean.
Korean is a natural choice for OWN’s next critical language. The language has consistently been the single most-requested course among OWN students, fills a need for high school students in Seattle, is exploding in popularity at the college level, and is an important language both locally and globally.
“These are exciting times for OneWorld Now!” says OWN’s Executive Director Jennifer Tanaka. “We are increasing our impact by expanding our programming and working with more students each year. Introducing Korean language is one way that we continue to break new ground in creating access to life-changing international education.”
OWN’s Korean classes come at the juncture between a meteoric rise in popularity for college-level Korean and a startling lack of Korean options at the high school level. Korean enrollment at four-year colleges nationwide increased 45.3% between 2011 and 2013, while at the University of Washington, Korean language enrollment has increased even at a time when other language enrollments have fallen. Of course, the absolute number of students studying Korean is still small compared with more common language like Spanish, French, and American Sign Language, but we at OneWorld Now believe that’s all the more reason for us to step in and take the lead on increasing the number of students studying Korean at the high school level.
For high school students in Seattle, Korean classes at OWN will fill a gap. No school in Seattle Public Schools or the immediately surrounding districts offers Korean, and out-of-school options are generally geared toward heritage speakers of Korean—those who experience the language with their family. OWN’s classes, by contrast, will be geared towards non-heritage speakers who have no prior knowledge of the language or culture.
Indeed, Korean is not only spoken by more than 70 million people worldwide, but also has special relevance in the Puget Sound region, as many Korean speakers call the Seattle metropolitan area home. Having a vibrant community of Korean speakers nearby means that there will be more opportunities for students to interact with native speakers, access authentic cultural experiences, and practice their language skill with local materials, such as the multiple Korean newspapers that are published in Seattle.
Korean classes will give OWN students rare access to a language with a fascinating and complex history, spoken in a globally important country. When asked what awaits OWN’s new Korean students, UW Senior Lecturer in Korean Soohee Kim said, “Learn the language whose alphabet is so logical and scientific that you can learn it in half an hour and then go into depths of emotion with a fascinating language structure. Prepare to visit the land where royal palaces, streams, and gardens are nestled amongst stunning high-rises, and you are certain to make a life-long friend on your first day there. Or meet people and practice Korean right here in the Greater Seattle area where the Koreans form one of the fastest growing and most thriving ethnic communities.”
We can’t wait for Seattle students to have access to such amazing opportunities!
To learn more about the OneWorld Now! Global Leadership Program and how you or your child can enroll in our Korean classes, click here.