Experts in the educational profession point out that it is hard to find certified Korean teachers, which drags down Korean class establishment in GA.
By Anna Kim
As the K-Pop wave has hit America, English native speakers have gotten hooked on learning the Korean language. They teach themselves online with kimchicloud.com or howtostudykorean.com. Korean Saturday schools in Atlanta are the second mainstay to help break through their limited Korean proficiency. K-Pop has formed the foundation of their love for the Korean language.
Here is a K-Popper who wants to speak about how she works through her Korean skills and harnesses the language. Chloe Arnett, Sophomore at North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, is the one.
“I started to learn Korean because I got into K-Pop, but the more I learned about the language the more I wanted to be able to speak it simply for the language itself. I know there are a sustainable amount of people at my school that listen to K-pop. At my church there are only a few of us, but we’re growing in number,” said Chloe. “I think Korean culture and K-Pop has helped me connect with people and be able to share my faith with them. I’ve also been able to strengthen relationships through our mutual love of K-Pop.”
Titilayomi Aiodun, Junior at Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, commands three different languages, including Korean, which she thinks is, hands down, the best language she has worked to learn.
“I am most interested in Korean and have a lot of different resources that make learning the language more fun. I came to have an interest in Korean through K-Pop, dramas, and variety. I think that’s when I really became interested in Korean culture, especially food and the history,” said Titi. “Korean language learning helps me to work harder and has helped me become more disciplined in several aspects of life. I think there is a lot of future value to learning Korean. So, I talked to my counselor and my parents about incorporating Korean in the language curriculum, but they didn’t think it would work out.”
Why couldn’t her suggestion be heard? What is an obstacle as far as Korean class establishment in GA?
“There is, in my opinion, only one main reason why Korean is not yet offered as a language in Georgia. This is primarily due to a lack of certified Korean teachers,” said Patrick Wallace, Program Specialist for World Languages and Global Workforce Initiatives at the Georgia Department of Education. “If we had an available pool of such teachers, then the next step would be to find a school or school system that would be open to offering the course. The course itself along with the standards is already a part of our curriculum.”
He added, “We recognize the importance of the Korean communities in Georgia and the economic impact that Korean companies have had in our region. Korean is a course that we offer in our K-12 curriculum and provided we can find certified teachers and willing schools or school systems to offer it, there are no obstacles from the state level that would prevent or hinder this development.”
How about Gwinnett County, which has a high Korean population?
There are 5 foreign languages that are offered at 139 Gwinnett County public schools: Spanish, French, Latin, German, and Chinese(Mandarin). American Sign Language has been adopted, but not currently offered, starting next year.
What protocol did American Sign Language go through prior to being offered?
“Community partners approached a building principal and asked to add the language. The school surveyed its student population to determine level of interest, and the school’s principal met with the school foreign language department chair to assess impact to current language offerings, “ said Jon Valentine, Director of Foreign Languages, Gwinnett County Public Schools. “The school principal submitted a formal request to add the language to the GCPS Director of Foreign Languages. A certified teacher was identified and met with the district Director of Foreign Languages. Potential instructional materials were identified and funding sources identified. The course was made available for any schools wishing to offer it.”
There are four factors on which the decision of which language to offer is based in GCPS: Community Input, School Foreign Language Program Fit, Development of Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) Curriculum and Community GEMS Oversight Team, and Availability of Potential Funding for Instructional Resources.
“Adding Korean language offerings would be a possibility if the four factors are considered and the detailed process is followed,” said Mr. Valentine. “Here is an important note: Our average class size in GCPS Spanish 1 classes is 36 students. It is sometimes a challenge for teachers of other languages to attract and maintain substantial enrollment.”
Kennesaw State University’s Han Gul Party.
Gwinnett County Public Schools.