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Second-language helps multicultural children identify as Korean: study

Using both languages of the parents helps children from multicultural families to identify as Koreans, research revealed Sunday.

“Many multicultural families in Korea seem to believe that sticking to the Korean language and Korean culture helps their children better adjust here and develop a Korean identity. But our findings tell otherwise,” said Woo Young-kyeong, a senior researcher at Korea Internet and Security Agency, and Kim Eun-ha, a professor at Dankuk University, in a paper published in a local academic journal.

According to their study of 133 children who were born to a Korean father and a mother from a different Asian country, those with fluency in their mother’s native language identified more strongly as Korean, whereas fluency in Korean did not have a meaningful correlation. 

“Multicultural children already think of themselves as Koreans, so speaking better Korean does not necessarily add to their cultural identity as Koreans,” the research team explained.

Korea, which once prided itself on its racial homogeneity, is witnessing a rapid rise of multiculturalism, with children from multicultural families making up 2.7 percent of elementary school pupils.

According to the Education Ministry, the number of these multicultural students jumped 20 percent in just one year to reach 99,186 at the end of last month.

By Jo He-rim  (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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