UW-Madison has received a $220,000 federal grant to kick off a program that aims to get more students speaking fluent Korean.
The U.S. Department of Defense funnels money to universities through its Flagship language program to get more students fluent in languages deemed important for economic or security reasons.
UW-Madison already offers an intensive Flagship program in Russian. Now, it will join only one other university in the U.S. to offer such a program for Korean.
WORT producer Nina Kravinsky spoke with the director of UW-Madison’s language institute, Dianna Murphy, about the initiative.
“It’s an opportunity to reach a really high level of proficiency in the language,” Murphy said. “It’s an opportunity that most U.S. students don’t have. So we’re really excited about being able to offer it for our students.”
Murphy says the UW will enroll 20 students a year in the program. Enrolled students will also be offered scholarships.
Students part of the Flagship program do not have to major in the language they are learning, Murphy said. But the language programs remain intensive, including year-round classes, tutoring and study abroad trips.
The Department of Defense decided to add Korean to its Flagship program because the military needs more Korean-speaking employees. “North and South Korea have become big in the news lately,” Murphy said.
The University of Hawaii is the only other university to teach the Korean language as part of the Flagship program. Flagship programs with other universities offer classes in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Chinese and Portuguese.