There are currently no online Korean language certificate or degree programs, nor is Korean commonly offered as a standalone degree major by traditional colleges and universities. Several non-credit online courses are available, however, ranging from beginner through advanced levels. Many students use these online courses to supplement degree work in majors such as East Asian studies or other language and culture programs. Graduate programs in these fields can also be found.
In online Korean language courses, students learn to read and write in Hangul, the Korean alphabet. They also learn about grammar and sentence structure, and students must practice both writing and conversation skills at all course levels. While much of the work is done privately, some programs allow students to interact with their teachers and fellow students through online forums.
Korean Language Programs and Courses
Typically, East Asian studies and language and culture programs are offered as bachelor's degrees, although in some instances the student can pursue a master's degree or doctorate in the subject. Korean, like many languages, is typically taught according to level of difficulty. Students with no former training begin at the basic or elementary level; as their understanding of the language increases, so does the complexity of the coursework. Those who successfully finish fourth or fifth year classes should be fully fluent in speaking, reading and writing Korean.
Program Information and Requirements
Bachelor's degrees in East Asian studies and similar language and culture programs typically take four years to complete; master's degrees generally require two years of full-time study. Other Korean language classes are offered online as part of a non-degree option, which allow students to study at their own pace. Students need a computer and Internet connection to access online components, which can include online lessons that utilize text, audio and graphics to help students become fluent in the Korean language. Resources that discuss Korean language, culture, art, history and philosophy may also be made available to interested students.
Korean language courses are offered at multiple levels of difficulty and generally require students to complete courses in consecutive order.
Also referred to as 'first-year Korean', this course is designed for those who have no prior background in the language. Students learn to read and write Hangul, the native Korean alphabet, and begin lessons in basic grammar and vocabulary. Towards the end of the course, curriculum focuses more on listening comprehension and conversational skills.
This second-year course builds upon the writing, reading, listening and speaking skills attained during the elementary course. Students learn new words and expressions and develop an improved understanding of the language as a whole. Towards the completion of the course, students are expected to verbally engage in a lengthy dialogue with others on a variety of subject matters.
Students should have a solid comprehension of the Korean language prior to the start of the course. Advanced skills in speaking, reading, writing and listening are taught, with frequent exercises provided in each. At the end of the course, students should be nearly fully fluent in all aspects of the Korean language, able to talk at length, expressing thoughts and feelings on nearly any given topic.
Fourth/Fifth Year Korean
Various Korean writing styles and genres are the primary focus of this course; students read and interpret everything from native Korean newspaper clippings to novels. Cultural and societal topics are also introduced. Successful completion of the course should elevate the student's understanding of the language to approximately the same level as that of a native Korean-speaking adult.
Graduates may have the option to become Korean language translators or interpreters, leading to employment in a number of different fields or industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), interpreters and translators held about 49,650 jobs in May 2015. The median annual wage was $44,190 as of the same date, according to the BLS, but salaries vary widely. Earnings depend on a number of factors, including skill level, education and experience, as well as the overall demand for interpreters or translators in the given language (www.bls.gov).
While there are no fully online Korean language degree programs, online courses at varying levels of difficulty can be studied alongside a relevant graduate or undergraduate degree. A student's prior experience and knowledge of the language will define which level of difficulty they choose for these online courses, ranging from elementary studies to a level intended for fluent speakers.