News Release| Modern Languages and Literatures Department; Cal State L.A.

April 14, 2011

Cal State L.A. and the Korean Education Center in Los Angeles to sign Memorandum of Understanding to develop Korean language programs

Los Angeles, CA – Becoming the first university in the nation equipped to educate a continuous flow of Korean language teachers for secondary schools, Cal State L.A. (CSULA) and the Korean Education Center in Los Angeles (KECLA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Thursday, April 14, which paves the way for the University to establish three Korean language programs.

Funded by a five-year $769,710 grant from the KECLA, the MOU mandates and enables the CSULA to launch the development of a minor in Korean language by 2012, a major in Korean language by 2015, and a Korean language teaching credential program by 2016.

The signing of the MOU represents a significant moment in the history of Korean language education in the United States. Cal State L.A. will also become the only University within the 23-campus CSU system to offer a major and minor in Korean language.

“Research conducted by the Modern Language Association in 2010 showed that Korean is the second fastest growing, and among the most popular, foreign languages to study in the U.S. The interest to earn a degree in the subject continues to grow, and this growth can be contributed to the expanding cultural, economic and industrial roles that Korea plays in the world today,” said Namhee Lee, an assistant professor in CSULA’s College of Arts and Letters, and a principal investigator on the Korean language project. Lee also leads the CSU Strategic Language Initiative (Korean) on campus.

The U.S. Department of Defense has listed the Korean language as one of the most strategic and important languages to learn, along with Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, and Russian. Korea is also known worldwide for its emerging consumer electronics industry.  

“These courses will reach even further because CSULA will develop online courses, along with traditional courses offered on campus, for those who want to earn Korean language certificates and become teachers. Now anyone in the United States who wishes to earn a Korean teacher certification may do so,” said Professor Hyojoung Kim, a sociology professor in CSULA’s College of Natural and Social Sciences, director of the Center for Korean American and Korean Studies, and a co-principal investigator on the Korean language project.

The KECLA is a non-profit educational organization, which is operated by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of the Republic of Korea. “The center is dedicated to educating Korean Americans and helping to establish their pride and identity as Koreans through a variety of programs on Korean language, culture and history,” said Younghan Keum, director of the KECLA.

“This grant demonstrates that even in this period of economic crisis, a program can grow and new projects can be initiated when the proper partnerships are formed between higher education institutions and other entities, such as the Korean Education Center in Los Angeles,” said Kim.

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