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Mixed Koreans and Korean Language and Culture Learning


Mixed Koreans and Korean Language and Culture Learning Hye-Sook Wang (Brown University) Hye-Sook_Wang_at_brown.edu AATK 15 (6/25/2010) Washington University in St. Louis – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Mixed Koreans and Korean Language and Culture Learning

Mixed Koreans and Korean Language and Culture
  • Hye-Sook Wang
  • (Brown University)
  • Hye-Sook_Wang_at_brown.edu
  • AATK 15 (6/25/2010)
  • Washington University in St. Louis

Background of the Study
  • Understanding our Learners
  • Survey Results (Wang 2008)
  • - 23 schools participated
  • - Head of the Korean program was
  • individually contacted by the investigator
  • - They submitted the survey via e-mail
  • - Exclusively on student composition

Changing Profiles of Learners Heritage vs.
  • Non-heritage learners
  • outnumber heritage
  • learners in 1st and 2nd
  • year class (73 vs.
  • 27 52 vs. 48
  • respectively).
  • More heritage learners
  • in 3rd year and beyond.

Changes in Perspective (between 2000 2008)
  • HLs considerably decreased (esp. at the lower
    levels) -gt increase of NHLs -gt HLs no longer
  • Other Koreans (half-Koreans, adopted Koreans)
    slightly increased
  • Ethnic and cultural backgrounds of the
    non-heritage learners have become far more
  • (e.g. increase of Asian Americans)
  • HLs are more like NHLs (Korean proficiency)

Non-heritage Learners Backgrounds
1st Yr. 2nd Yr. 3rd Yr. 4th Yr.
Half Koreans 8.7 14.6 6.6 2.3
Adopted Koreans 3.3 4.0 3.9 3.2
Caucasian Americans 27.0 21.0 10.4 6.5
Asian Americans 33.3 10.9 12.6 1.1
  • Socio-historical
  • reason/context
  • - Statistics on mixed
  • marriage show that it
  • has been rapidly
  • increasing.
  • (source KSO)
  • - Learners from this
  • group is expected to
  • increase in the future.

1990 1997 2005
of MM 4,710 12,448 42,356
Ratio of MM to TM 1.0 3.2 13.5
MM mixed marriage TM total marriage
Objectives of the Study
  • To investigate half-Koreans students approach to
    Korean language and culture learning
  • To investigate the impact of parental influence,
    social and cultural exposure, and phenotype or
    physical appearance on learning Korean
  • To provide insights/ suggestions for teaching
    this specific group of learners

Research Questions
  • How and to what degree do specific social factors
    (childhood environment, academic setting,
    physical identification) and cultural exposure
    influence half-Koreans decision to study Korean
  • What was the influence of the Korean and
    non-Korean parent on the students decision to or
    not to pursue Korean language learning?
  • For those who chose not to study Korean language
    in high school or university, what are the main
    reasons they chose not do so?

Data Collection
  • Survey
  • - 21 participants from IVY schools and
    private universities in New England area
  • - Two-page survey questionnaire focusing on
  • a) relationship with parents (KP vs. NKP)
  • b) exposure to Korean culture
  • c) degree of interaction with Korean people
  • d) the influence of phenotype (observable
    physical characteristics) and ethnic
  • e) decisions related to studying Korean language
    both before and while attending college

  • In-person interview (Profile of 5 participants)

Inter-viewee Age School year Major Gender Moms Ethnicity Dads Ethni-city
1 21 4th IR F K Japanese
2 22 4th AH M K Chinese
3 20 2nd IR F K Spanish
4 20 2nd Bio F Cau. K
5 19 1st Engin M K G/Irish
IR stands for International Relations, AH stands
for Art History.
Results Summary of Findings
  • (1) Parental Influence
  • Parental Background of Survey Participants

Parents Background of Survey Participants Visited K at Least Once Cultural Practice
KM, NAF 13 (62) 8 (62) 11 (85)
KM, AF 4 (19) 1 (25) 4 (100)
KF, NAM 3 (14) 0 0
KF, AM 1 (5) 1 (100) 1 (100)
KM Korean Mother, NAF non-Asian father, KF
Korean Father, NAM non-Asian mother
  • Respondents with Korean mothers tend to have a
    greater level of exposure and connection to
    Korean culture.
  • With Korean mothers
  • - 10 out of 17 (59) respondents had visited
    Korea at least once
  • - 15 out of 17 (88) - observed some form
    of Korean cultural practices
  • With Korean father(s)
  • - 1 out of 4 (25) respondents responded the same

  • (2) Cultural and Social Exposure
  • - 2 out of 21 (10) more than half or almost
    all of their classmates were Korean
  • - 18 out of 21 (86) watched Korean movies
    and listened to Korean music -gt 4 out of these
    18 did
  • one or both on a regular basis
  • - 16 out of 21 (76) ate Korean food at home
  • - 2 out of 21 (10) attended a Korean church
  • - 10 out of 21 (48) visited Korea at least once

(3) Phenotype (physical appearance)
Group personally identified with Based on physical appearance (Personal Identification) Based on physical appearance (Others Identification)
Korean 3 1 2
Korean-American 3 N/A N/A
Other, Non-Asian 3 4 3
Mixed/Multiethnic N/A 13 12
Asian American 2 1 4
American 4 N/A N/A
Havent thought about it 5 1 N/A
None of the above 1 1 0

Views on Korean Language Learning
  • Survey
  • - 13 out of 21 (62) never studied Korean in a
    formal setting, and 12 of those 13 said they
    would consider taking Korean classes
  • - 11 of 13 (85) cited inflexible schedules
    and/or lack of time for being the main reason
    for not taking Korean class
  • - 8 of 13 (62) chose to study another language
    in class, and these include Italian, French,
    Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese -gt 7 of these 8
    chose a non-Korean language because it was
    deemed highly useful and/or required for their
    college major or future career path.

  • Interview
  • -gt major factor in the decision was practicality
    (long term career application and/or
    communication with family)
  • - One chose Japanese because Japanese is a more
    practical language in terms of international
    business and politics
  • - One chose Spanish because she felt closer to
    her Spanish family members
  • - One was taking Korean because of his
    relationship with his Korean grandparents but
    will not continue due to heavy workload of his
    Engineering major

  • Half-Koreans with a Korean mother are more likely
    to have exposure to Korean society, culture, and
    traditions and to be motivated to learn the
  • The influence of social and cultural exposure to
    Korean people and traditions was difficult to
    gauge and hard to generalize.
  • Participants varied in their views on phenotype -
    their identity varies by individual and social

  • Participants decided whether or not to study
    Korean language based on its relative importance
    and immediate practical use.
  • (practicality supercedes ethnic background)
  • Large time commitment and heavy workload prevent
    the learners from taking the class.
  • Half-Koreans seem to have a weak sense of racial
    identity and this seems to influence their
    decisions to pursue Korean language learning.

  • Difficulty of collecting data
  • - hard to identify those who are not taking
    Korean classes
  • - few volunteered for an interview
  • - missing cell in the interview data (Asian M

Some Feedback from Half-Korean Students
  • Entering the class was a very personal decision
    for me. I wanted to learn more about my own
    culture, a culture that my mother never really
    exposed me to. Although I will be leaving the
    class with only a limited knowledge of the Korean
    language, this knowledge has helped me to move
    forward in finding my personal and cultural
    identity as well as to move forward in connecting
    with my mother, her personal identity, and her
    side of my family.
  • (female, Korean mom Caucasian dad)

  • As the year progressed, the Korean class became
    more and more a part of my daily routine. I began
    to speak Korean in and out with some of my Korean
    friends, and it was a great feeling being able to
    read Korean. I really began to feel proud of my
    Korean culture. When people asked what I was
    taking, they are generally surprised to hear that
    I am taking Korean, because I do not look very
    Korean. It makes me proud to say that I am
    Korean, that my mother is Korean, and that I am
    now on the path to learning to speak Korean. I
    feel like I have a great start to becoming fluent
    in the language one day. It was a promise I made
    to my grandma when she passed away, and it is
    something that will hopefully bring me to Korea
    one day in the very near future. (Male, K mom
    Caucasian dad)

  • Exchange/ share personal experiences and views

  • Teaching half-Koreans
  • - understand their unique background
  • and challenges
  • - increase exposure to Korean culture
  • - take an individual approach
  • one-on-one meeting
  • customized homework

Thank You!
  • For listening and participating
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