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We live in a diverse world, where being multilingual is a valuable skill to have. The opportunity to learn a second language involves more than just the linguistic basics. It allows you to fully immerse yourself in a new culture, and helps you gain an understanding of specific cultural aspects like food, religious beliefs, daily activities and more.

The Korea Center-King Sejong Institute, or KC-KSI, in the Office of International Programs recognizes the importance of learning a second language and has offered non-credit language classes for nearly 10 years to the Auburn-Opelika community. In 2020, things suddenly changed when they were forced to move their classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this change ultimately provided the KC-KSI with an advantage to reach more people, both locally and globally.

“The digital advertising presence and convenience of language learning online ultimately increased our student enrollment, and we are now getting students from around the world,” said Ellie Lee, director of academic programs for the Korea Center-King Sejong Institute. “Having more of a presence on social media specifically strengthened our audience and engagement, which led more people to register for our classes.”

The shift to online instruction was beneficial for many reasons, and for one family the classes not only proved helpful in learning a new language but for strengthening their family bond. Kim Spoor and her two daughters, Kate and Maddie first became interested in learning the Korean language when they were forced to isolate themselves at home during the pandemic. At this time, the Spoor family began watching the Korean Drama, “Love Alarm” on Netflix. Shortly after, the entire family became fascinated with watching Korean dramas and listening to K-pop music.

In spring 2021, Kate saw a flier for the KC-KSI’s Korean language classes being offered during the summer and gathered her mom and sister to join. Even though the Spoor family knew it would involve a lot of time and effort, they registered for the level one class and began learning the language together. The class lasted 15 weeks for 45 total hours. To pass the class, students needed 70% attendance and a score above 60% on their final assessment.

“Studying the Korean language really opened up a new world for us,” said Kim Spoor. “We now have a better understanding and appreciation of the Korean culture, and it is so exciting to hear and understand the Korean language.”

The family encourages other people to take the Korean language classes and has even shared what they learned with their American friends. They plan to visit South Korea in 2023 to finally put their new skills to the ultimate test.

The KC-KSI currently offers eight regular language courses to participants from all over the world. In fact, with the transition to online instruction, the institute has 121 students registered this semester, which includes 10 students from Ecuador and three students from Canada. The institute highly encourages everyone to try the classes regardless of age, nationality or skill level.

Each class is designed to help the student gain an appreciation for Korean language and culture through interactive and immersive experiences. Along with the eight language classes, the KC-KSI also offers four conversational classes that are recommended to take after passing class levels one and two. Whether you are looking for career advancement, a new hobby or something to do in your free time, learning a new language can open several professional and personal opportunities.

Registration for the KC-KSI’s summer 2022 language classes will open in May. For questions, email auksi@auburn.edu.

To learn more about the Korea Center-King Sejong Institute and its classes and events throughout the year, visit the Office of International Programs’ website.

The Spoor family.