Mock classes advance student group's push for Korean language instruction

Students at one of two mock courses in Korean language.

Professor ChaeRan Freeze says Brandeis will offer summer course in Korean culture, literacy.

The Brandeis Korean Course and Language Initiative (BKCLI) invited Harvard Korean drill instructor Hyunju Ha and Harvard Preceptor in Korean Hee-Jeong Jeong to host beginning Korean classes for interested students and staff.

The 50-minute sessions gave the teachers an opportunity to display their teaching styles, the students an opportunity to provide feedback to staff and members of Brandeis faculty, including Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences Elaine Wong, the chance to observe teachers and students alike.

Approximately 25 students attended the first session and 15 the second. Faculty who were involved in the search process included Professors Stephen Dowden, Yu Feng, Hiroko Sekino, Andrew Koh and ChaeRan Freeze.

The student-organized Korean language initiative, supported by members of the East Asian Studies department, the Arts and Sciences staff, Alumni Relations and the Provost since its creation, is lobbying for institution of regular classes in Korean. Originally a part of the Brandeis Korean Student Association, BKCLI became an officially chartered club last spring.

Interest in studying Korean by participants in the Korean Language Table (KLT) helped staff gauge the demand for Korean on campus. KLT tutees learn beginning or intermediate Korean from fluent peers based on a textbook and curriculum published by Yonsei University, one of two universities that Brandeis approves for study abroad programs in Seoul. Approximately 52 percent of the 42 learners in the KLT program are Chinese or Korean-American, up 40 percent this year.

According to Freeze, the university will offer an upper-level course in Korean heritage this summer titled “Pathways to Korean Literacy” (KOR 29a), which includes a language component.

This pilot course may help toward the BKCLI goal to bring formal Korean language instruction to Brandeis. Currently, no plans have been approved to create fall or spring semester classes to teach Korean language.

 “Starting a curriculum is a complex process that requires time and money, both of which we are currently short on,” says BKCLI president Ku Jung ’14. “BKCLI will focus on seeking external financing for the remainder of this semester and hopes to have good news for students next fall.”

Professor Theodore Yoo of the University of Hawaii, Brandeis Professor Freeze’s brother, suggested that BKCLI pursue a grant from The Korea Foundation, an organization affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in promoting academic and cultural exchange programs, for funding to hire a full-time instructor.

“The purpose of the summer pilot course is to demonstrate genuine interest from Brandeis to the Korea Foundation," Freeze said.

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