Variety

Why are young Indians learning Korean?

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Dec 08, 2021
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Korean language established itself as the 5th most popular language being learned in the country

Indian millennials and Gen-Z – especially between the age groups of 17 - 25 – are increasingly learning Korean, influenced by pop culture, making it the fastest-growing language in India according to language learning patterns, attitudes and perceptions report released by Duolingo a popular language learning app.

Korean has climbed up the ladder of most popular languages – behind traditional heavyweights like English, Hindi, French, and Spanish - and has comfortably established itself as the 5th most popular language being learned in the country, the report claimed.

The company said the rise in popularity of Korean can be attributed in part to the release of the popular TV series Squid Games in 2021. As India tunes into more Korean entertainment and listens to more K-pop, language study has been reframed as something that complements and supports interests and other activities—not just something required in a classroom, it added in the report.

Commenting on the 2021 edition of the Duolingo Language Report, Country Marketing Manager in India, Karandeep Singh Kapany said, "With a young India wanting to stay connected to the local and global culture we have witnessed most traction on Duolingo from the 17 to 25 age bracket, across languages. As Indians increasingly move to virtual learning platforms that are fun and effective, we look forward to further tailoring courses for the Indian learner and meeting their language learning needs.”

Pop culture influence

In fact, according to a survey conducted by Duolingo, over 56 per cent of respondents said that they were influenced to learn a new language by pop culture trendsetters including movies, OTT shows, and web series. The survey said that globally English, Spanish, French, German, and Japanese are the most popular languages on Duolingo.

Close to 40 per cent of respondents stated that they were currently studying a new language. While the range of reasons to study a new language is diverse for Indian learners, professional and personal growth remain top motivators. This trend is observed across age groups as well as across metro and non-metro cities in India. Interest in a different culture, staying connected with the community, and pursuing a new hobby are reasons that follow closely, the survey added.

English, regional languages learning too preferred

When asked which languages they would be interested in learning in the future, 38 per cent of respondents picked a European language with French, Spanish, and German being the top choices. With the corporate and entrepreneurial sectors getting increasingly global, it is not surprising that Indians are looking to expand their professional boundaries by learning these globally popular languages.

Interestingly, an equal number of respondents stated that they would be interested in learning English and an Indian regional language. This showcases the need to branch and seek new opportunities, while also staying connected to cultural roots.

The survey also said that digital learning is the most preferred medium of learning especially via mobile applications and video platforms

Spurred by the pandemic, virtual learning has taken precedence over physical classrooms. It also allows learners the freedom to upskill either on-the-go or from the comfort of their homes. Respondents said that they were most comfortable learning a new language from mobile applications and video tutorials. Physical classrooms are the next preferred medium of learning followed by distance learning language courses.

To coincide with the report Duolingo announced its ‘Most 2021 Phrase.’ ‘I’m mentally exhausted’. Duolingo selected this phrase, found in its Japanese course, to reflect the tone and overall feeling of the year after much of the globe continued to cycle through lockdowns, delayed return-to-office plans, and ever-changing health policies. The report also said that 25 million people worldwide were learning more than one language.

Published on December 08, 2021

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