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Korean Charter School in Minnesota?

Remember Yinghua Academy is Minneapolis? It’s a charter school that teaches Mandarin Chinese immersion style and was featured in Time Magazine not too long ago. Other Asian languages (including Korean) are taught in other U.S. elementary schools as discussed here before.

Well people, welcome to Sejong Academy of Minnesota, a proposed charter school modeled after Yinghua and, you guessed it, teaches a curriculum involving immersion in the Korean language. According to the Twin Cities Daily Planet:

Sejong Academy board president Grace Lee said that while the most common types of families interested in this school would be Koreans or Korean adoptees (Minnesota is the biggest adopter in the United States, and second in the world in Korean adoptions), there’s another audience as well.

“South Korea is the tenth largest economy in the world,” so any family wanting their child to be global and bilingual could consider Sejong Academy. For example, “Samsung and LG have offices all over the world,” Lee said. “We truly plan to offer a diverse and global citizen experience.”

Well, South Korea is currently the 13th or 15th largest economy, not the 10th, but okay.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Study of Korean is a dead end for the would-be globalist. It’s a language spoken only in a single, small country and its exclaves, by people who really want to be left the hell alone. I was going to say that study of Korean would be like studying Danish, but then I remembered that Denmark has a colony in Greenland (there’s that globalization again), and Danish is spoken by many other Scandinavians. Maybe Korean is as useful to the would-be globalist as Polish or Ukrainian.

    Want to be global? Study Spanish, French, or Arabic. Maybe Portuguese. Or here’s an idea: Study English. Especially since this Sejong Academy will be in Minnesota, study English. I mean really learn English — read literature instead of txting ppl abt yr aZiAn Pr!D3. I haven’t really noticed people these days having too strong a command of English, including you, Mr. Malaprop (although I don’t think even you aren’t crippled enough with English to hawk your wedding ring at the porn shop, so there’s that), so there’s definitely room for more English study.

    Maybe these Korean parents want to make sure that Chul-Soo also has limited English, like them, so there’s someone to take over the family convenience store. Otherwise, I think speaking Korean all day at Sejong Academy will be counterproductive for those Korean-American kids who will make up 99.44% of the enrollment.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Want to be global? Study Spanish, French, or Arabic. Maybe Portuguese. Or here’s an idea: Study English.

    You forgot Chinese.

    If I had kids, I’d have them learn Spanish or Chinese as their third language.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Chinese is a good language, but not a “global” language yet. There are no populations of non-Chinese ethnicity outside the PRC who are using Chinese as an official language or lingua franca.

    It is, however, a fascinating language, like Korean. Both are well-worth the study — just not for the bogus reasons advanced by Sejong Academy parents who want to make sure their kids can speak Korean.

  • http://www.wm3.org iheartblueballs

    It’s a language spoken only in a single, small country and its exclaves, by people who really want to be left the hell alone.

    Seems somebody conveniently forgot about the Cia-Cia tribe of Bau-Bau city on Buton Island, located in the southeastern Indonesian province of Sulawesi. Clearly the first domino to fall in the Hangul World Domination plan if you listen to the Korean media.

    Otherwise, I think speaking Korean all day at Sejong Academy will be counterproductive for those Korean-American kids who will make up 99.44% of the enrollment.

    Yeah, but don’t forget about the one poor white kid whose parents stick him in Sejong Academy because they heard Obama praise the Korean education system. That little fucker will be lights out scoring ass when he finally hits Korean shores for a summer cultural camp.

  • Sr Noob

    > Chinese is a good language, but not a “global” language yet.

    True. Although with the rate Chinese foreign investment is going into Africa, I would not be surprised to see Chinese become a useful language over there soon.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    blueballs — I think the Cia-Cia people are still speaking their own language Bing-Bing, or whatever it’s called; they’ve adopted hangul for some reason (which I suspect is a generous bribe by the Hangul Society or some other Korean organization, enough to keep the Cia-Cias in loincloths for a while, with maybe a free LG television thrown in for the village) to represent the sounds of their own language.

    But yeah, it does seem to be the topic of an inordinate amount of flag-waving reportage. Next stop on the worldwide spread of hangul to unlettered populations, Appalachia.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Speaking of language… I just babelfished an article in Japanese and the translation is FAR superior to babelfishing something in Korean. Why is that considering that the two languages have virtually the same grammar?

    Brendon,

    I would agree that the reasoning to have a Korean language charter school in the U.S. is a bit bogus considering the relative unmarketability of said language.

  • WeikuBoy

    “There are no populations of non-Chinese ethnicity who are using Chinese as an official language or lingua franca.” — Brendon

    Perhaps; but there are ethnic Chinese using Chinese in every far-flung corner of planet Earth. Thus arguably making Chinese something of a global language. On the other hand, the one Korean adoptee I knew well in the U.S. hated the way she was treated as a fatherless child and wanted nothing to do with Korea or Koreans. So I’m not sure Korean adoptees are going to be a big market for Sejong Academy.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    A lot of my readers are adoptive parents of Korean children (most of them in Minnesota for some reason — people must be nice there,) and I have seen more than a few parents who plan to home school their children so that they can give equal Korean education as well as American education. A lot of emails and Facebook messages asking me about Korean school curriculum recently. This school could possibly cater to such parents.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Speaking of language… I just babelfished an article in Japanese and the translation is FAR superior to babelfishing something in Korean. Why is that considering that the two languages have virtually the same grammar?

    Koreans are far more interested in excluding the participation of non-ethnic Koreans in the study of things Korean than Japanese are in excluding non-Japanese from the study of things Japanese. Put another way, Koreans chase away foreigners interested in Korea, and thus the academic study of Korean, including translation of Korean to English, is dominated by Koreans themselves. And their English sucks.

    Yesterday I dashed off an urgent translation of an official document for a client rather than assigning to a Korean or kyopo lawyer. The difference in quality was quite amazing. Now, I’m a good writer, so whatever I’m writing is a superior product, but I have to believe the fact that I am a native English speaker contributes mightily to the quality of the product. Where are the native English-speaking translators? There ain’t many here, while there are tons in Japan. Same thing goes for linguists in general, and those are the people who develop machine translation software.

  • Sr Noob

    > I just babelfished an article in Japanese and
    > the translation is FAR superior to babelfishing
    > something in Korean. Why is that considering
    > that the two languages have virtually the same grammar?

    These days, translating software works by having tons of official translations pumped into it to use as a foundation (UN stuff, for example, tends to be very multilingual). I am guessing that there are a lot more Japanese language documents with official translation, or other documents that have been translated into Japanese. The bigger the foundation, the better the computer translation.

  • yuna

    and Danish is spoken by many other Scandinavians

    Between the Norwegians,Swedes, and Danish their languages are quite similar so they “should” be able to understand each other, and read stuff and understand (If Korea had kept its employing Hanja to write Sino-Korean words it might have almost been similar in between the three countries), but I don’t think it’s true that Danish is actually spoken by other Scandinavians (apart from the Skåne area of Sweden maybe) Denmark is often ostracized (in a joking manner) as not really being part of Scandinavia, and its language a serious laughing matter.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    What I heard from my Icelander roommate was that the Scandis loved to mooch off Danish welfare, which made learning Danish somewhat attractive. English if you want to work, Danish if you want to loaf around and take an unearned welfare check.

  • http://www.wm3.org iheartblueballs

    I honestly didn’t dig into the details of the Indonesian tribe story, so I’m sure you’re correct Brendon. I had just assumed it was a convulted scheme to dump some Winter Sonata box sets and Rain posters on the unsuspecting tribe.

  • yuna


    more LOL
    this is exactly how it is. They all have TV broadcasting all three countries programs (with subtitles) and English language programs with subtitles, I really feel it’s the way to go for the three East Asian countries.
    Yeah, B. Carr maybe for the Icelandics who want to leave and not work somewhere else (and the Finns who prefer to go to Sweden) but I wasn’t really including those two in Scandinavia.

  • http://www.wm3.org iheartblueballs

    convulted=convoluted

  • CactusMcHarris

    #14 – ‘I had just assumed it was a convoluted scheme to dump some Winter Sonata box sets and Rain posters on the unsuspecting tribe.’

    Nice! You’re in marketing, right?

  • guitard

    Why is Japanese English machine translation so much better than Korean English machine translation?

    It’s very simple – it’s because the Japanese invested heavily in that technology and started doing it a long time ago.

    It’s the same reason that Russian English machine translation is much better than a lot of other languages. NSA invested heavily in its development.

  • iMe

    Oooooooooooh! I am SO moving to MN to set up a bunch of hagwons!

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Brendon and Guitard,

    Makes a lot of sense fellas.

  • cm

    Korean is a dead useless language if you look at it in a narrowly focused view of people who really don’t really need it, like the people in Minnesota or ESL teachers in Korea. But for non Korean people in Asia where Korean investments and Korean economic activity is high, it’s a worthy language to learn. Korean language study is booming throughout Asia, especially in Vietnam, Mongolia, Indonesia, Philippines, etc.

    By the way, agreed that it’s a dumb ideal to put a school in Minnesota where there’s no need for the language nor the demand. They should have put that same school in Vietnam or Mongolia where it’s sorely needed.

  • Ledtim

    Speaking of machine translation, I was amazed how accurate and intelligible Japanese to Korean internet translation was, like the one available at http://jpdic.naver.com/. Even considering that the two languages share similar structures and words, certainly beats machine translation of other related languages like between French and English. There even was a message board where Korean and Japanese posters talked to each other using inbuilt machine translation, so I assume Korean to Japanese translation is pretty good too.

  • cm

    ^ you are right. It’s amazingly accurate. But I find that it’s not always a good thing. They can be used as a weapon, to find out what bad things are said about each other.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “Perhaps; but there are ethnic Chinese using Chinese in every far-flung corner of planet Earth. Thus arguably making Chinese something of a global language.”

    Exactly.

    Besides, which language has the most native speakers? (Yes, I’m fully aware that speakers of one dialect of Mandarin are often unintelligible to those of another, but the same could be said about native speakers of English).

    Mandarin is also one of the 6 official languages of the UN.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “Same thing goes for linguists in general…”

    Nah, there are plenty of us linguists here. We’re teaching English as a second language instead of linguistics, regardless of our credentials.

  • aaronm

    Re: The Cia-Cia language for IHBB, Brendon is correct, they speak Bahasa Cia Cia (South Butonese) and plans are still afoot to render it in hangeul. However, this came from wikipedia.

    “They told The Korea Times in January 2010 that hangul had yet to be officially adopted by the Cia Cia because Bau-bau Mayor Amirul Tamim had not taken due procedures necessary for a foreign alphabet to be recognized as an official writing system”.

    More here, where it appears that all that was done was the signing of an MOU. Actually the whole project appears to be a clusterfuck.

    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/01/113_59789.html

    I’m surprised that nobody thought of using the Javanese script for the poor alphabetless buggers. After all, Cia-Cia and Javanese are of the same linguistic family

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Javanese_script

    Re: CM #21 “Korean language study is booming throughout Asia, especially in Vietnam, Mongolia, Indonesia, Philippines, etc. ”

    While there is some truth in that, it is mostly those desiring to hold 3D jobs that are signing up here in Indonesia. My wife and all her girlfriends are watching Full House and all that other nonsense with Bahasa Indonesian sub titles or fully dubbed.

  • milton

    I’m surprised that nobody thought of using the Javanese script for the poor alphabetless buggers. After all, Cia-Cia and Javanese are of the same linguistic family

    Why not just use the Latin alphabet, as the modern Javanese do? According to Wikipedia, Javanese script has the added disadvantage of being difficult to render in unicode. Plus it’s an abuguida. Anyone’s who’s studied rudimentary Thai can tell you what a pain in the butt it is to learn that type of system.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Anybody who’s ever had the experience of signing a confidential MOU with which some Korean politician is involved (however tangentially, but it’s worst when some local government is the counterparty), and then immediately seeing that politician on the front page of the paper trumpeting the deal he just closed, will sympathize with the Cia-Cias.

  • http://sungnyemun.org/downloads/no.php dda

    Seems somebody conveniently forgot about the Cia-Cia tribe of Bau-Bau city on Buton Island, located in the southeastern Indonesian province of Sulawesi. Clearly the first domino to fall in the Hangul World Domination plan if you listen to the Korean media.

    You’re confusing language and writing system. 라이팅 섬씽 인 한글 다즌트 민 이츠 코리언.

  • aaronm

    Brendon,

    “but it’s worst when some local government is the counterparty”

    Ditto here for Indonesia since the signing of local autonomy laws in 1999 that have made the Bupati or Walikota (regent or mayor) king of his own fiefdom. I suspect in this case the mayor of Bau-bau (which my wife’s cousin who travels there regularly for work relates is actually a nice city despite its name meaning stink-stink) probably got a truckload of cash from the Hunminjeongeum and then conveniently forgot that any local ordinances still have to be in accordance with national law (with noxious sharia bylaws being the obvious exception, but that is a whole different kettle of fish).

    #27, Milton, my question was meant to be more of a quip about employing an equally redundant form of writing to the Cia-Cia language.

  • milton

    Milton, my question was meant to be more of a quip about employing an equally redundant form of writing to the Cia-Cia language.

    I guess that’s why the Internet needs a tag.

  • milton

    oops…my attempt at creating a sarcasm tag failed.

  • seouldout

    They’ve adopted hangul for some reason (which I suspect is a generous bribe by the Hangul Society or some other Korean organization, enough to keep the Cia-Cias in loincloths for a while, with maybe a free LG television thrown in for the village) to represent the sounds of their own language.

    Loincloths?! Oh, puleeeaze. You really think they’re that primitive? C’mon! They wear penis gourds, fer chrissakes.

    Worship DC-10s, too.

  • wangkon936