After ten years in the making, the dream of a Korean Language Program is now a reality.
Originally founded by Chin Chang, the department chair of modern language and professor of Spanish, 13–14 years prior, the class proved that it was not yet ready to come to fruition. With the Chinese Language course also beginning its take off, Chang was already worn thin by his Spanish class workload. and the lack of resources.
The combination, along with the lack of resources, proved that it was simply not the Korean Language Program’s time yet.
Flash forward years later to this summer, the program was met with unexpected help: the King Sejong Institute, which is a non-profit organization financially sponsored by the Korean Government whose goal is to introduce the Korean language and culture to different countries.
When schools apply to the King Sejong Institute, they are put through an application process. Once accepted, they will be supplied with all the resources and professors necessary. In the U.S., there are currently 12 Institutes, and there are around 170 worldwide. Because Taylor is a small school, Chang did not have much hope for being accepted by such a large program.
“(We had) very little hope, but we explained why we really wanted to host the program so much here,” Chang said. “In the Midwest, the people here don't have (as) much opportunity that other people in the big cities have (or) access to education of the Korean language.”
However, in Chang’s case, the small school size was a positive pull, and the Institute chose Taylor to sponsor a Korean Language Program. According to Chang, the program is available at the courtesy of the Institute, and without them, there would be no Korean courses.
This semester alone, the Institute is offering two courses, Elementary Korean I and Intermediate Korean I, with Elementary Korean II and Intermediate Korean II to follow in the spring at no extra cost to Taylor students. The Institute supplies $25,000 in funding per semester.
The professor sent on behalf of the Institute was professor Jin Choi. Although just graduating from Keimyung University in 2019, she has already taught Korean in Tajikistan. Choi explained how she enjoys the bond she has with her students, and how even though she is in a different country, she likes the consistency the lessons provide no matter her location.
Chang has big dreams for all that the Korean Language Program could be. He is planning future events, such as hosting K-pop instructors who teach K-pop stars in Korea, and there are three other major events in the works. Senior Autumn Dominique is assisting Chang as the event coordinator for the program.
As a senior, Dominique has never been able to take one of the Korean classes, but she maintains a passion for the culture. Dominique mentioned all the benefits of taking Korean classes, including learning how the Korean culture is intertwined with the language.
“The language is beautiful and so much fun to learn and eventually use,” Dominique said. “Korean is actually a lot easier to learn than people expect. Also, learning another language is always beneficial simply because it allows you to speak to millions of people you couldn't have before, which is pretty cool.”
Along with these benefits, students will be able to take a trip to Korea during the summer to fulfill basic or intermediate levels of the course. There, they will gain hands-on experience, both with the language and the culture around it.
Because the program was approved during the summer, the course has not received much publicity. Chang says that all the program needs now is for people to take advantage of the opportunities it offers and to register for the course.
“I think that it is important for students to take this opportunity while they can because this is a very good program that we are so lucky to have,” Dominique said. “The King Sejong Institute made this program at Taylor possible, so I hope that a lot of Taylor's current students see how big of a privilege it is that they are the first ones to have access to this program.”