Has a boom in learning the Korean language started in U.S. universities? According to a study by the U.S. Modern Language Association on 2,514 universities nationwide, the number of students taking Korean language courses increased by 19.1 percent between 2006 and 2009. It was the second largest increase following a 46.3 percent surge in Arabic language studies, while Chinese came in third with 18.2 percent.
The MLA attributed the trend to a response to world developments, including the increasing emergence of East Asian countries in the global community and a heightened attention on the Arab world following the September 11 attacks.
But some in the U.S. are cautious to call it a boom. Comments on the L.A. Times website point out that many of the students in Korean language classes are ethnic Koreans who are there to earn an "easy" good grade.
In terms of the actual number of students enrolled in foreign language classes, Korean stands at 14th place with 8,511 as of 2009, far behind other Asian languages such as Japanese in sixth place with 73,434 enrolled students and Chinese in seventh with 60,976.