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Japanese and Korean courses - why there's never been a better time to start learning Japanese or Korean

3 July 2019
Posted in: Courses

There's been a huge growth in interest in Japanese culture and Korean culture in the UK over the last decade.

Walk the streets of London nowadays, and the growing impact of these two cultures is impossible to miss – whether you’re stopping for lunch at Itsu or Wagamama, updating your wardrobe at fashion chains such as Uniqlo, watching Okja on Netflix during your commute home, or even letting off steam after work with an aikido or taekwondo workout.

With all things Japanese and Korean firmly hitting the cultural zeitgeist, there has never been a better time to go one step further and start learning these two fascinating languages.

Aside from the enthralling food, film and music emerging from these two countries, there’s also a strong professional incentive to consider taking up these two languages. Japanese and Korean are two of the world’s fastest growing languages – and that’s primarily because of their growing importance in the world of business.

Japan is the world’s third largest economy, whilst South Korea is home to some of the world's most cutting edge brands including Samsung, Hyundai and LG – and with technology continuing to revolutionise all our lives, these markets are likely to grow even stronger in the coming years.

Here are just a few more reasons to consider learning Japanese and Korean

Japanese courses – why learn Japanese?

Image of Japanese sushiImage of Japanese sushi

Wondering why Japanese culture has become so influential in the UK in recent times?

Interestingly, much of it has to do with childhood nostalgia. Think of many of the UK’s favourite Christmas toys over the past four decades, and many of them have a strong Japanese connection.

From Transformers and Tamagotchis, to Power Rangers and more recently Pokémon, nearly every child growing up in the UK has a fond childhood memory of at least one Japanese cultural touchstone – so it’s little surprise that more and more people are choosing to explore Japanese as they grow older. More recently, the growth in availability of Manga comics and the critically acclaimed films of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have helped continue the Japanese cultural phenomenon currently sweeping the UK.

Food is another leading factor in why Japan’s influence both culturally and linguistically is in the ascendancy. The rise of popular chain restaurants, and availability of healthy, convenient lunches for the busy Londoner have certainly played their part in growing the popularity of Japanese food in the capital. Interestingly, many of the most famous Japanese chains that have popped up on streets across the capital only date back to the mid-1990s, and one of the UK’s biggest supermarkets recently revealed it now sells 90,000 packs of sushi a week. This suggests the time where Japanese food was considered an ‘exotic’ meal choice for hungry Brits is now long past – it’s now a simple fact of many people’s daily routine.

The growing needs of the business world are another huge reason behind the Japanese language’s rise in popularity. Japanese companies employ around 140,000 people in the UK, so unsurprisingly, there has been a surge in uptake in people learning the language for career development over recent years.  Proficiency in Japanese is becoming particularly important for anyone who wants to pursue a career within one of the country’s ‘boom’ sectors – science, technology or robotics.

Finally it’s also worth noting that interest in Japanese culture and Japanese language courses is likely to show no signs of letting up over the next few years, as Japan will also be at the centre of the world’s attention in 2020 as the Olympic Games come to Tokyo.

The games will take place at multiple locations across the city and surrounding islands, and are anticipated to be the most ‘high tech’ games of all time – both in terms of the venues and competition technology. Expect robots, laser refereeing and even driverless cars to usher spectators to the games. So, why not get ahead of the games and impress your friends with your language skills as you watch the 100m final light up Tokyo come 2020.


Thinking of learning Japanese? Meet Chika!

Korean courses – why learn Korean?

Korean may not have quite the global reach of Japanese, yet it’s still a language spoken by over 77 million people around the world. To put that in perspective, that’s only 1 million less than the number of people who speak German.  

London plays host to Europe’s largest Korean community – with the suburb of New Malden alone thought to be home to some 20,000 Koreans, just one of the reasons why Korean food and culture is particularly prevalent across the capital. For foodies across London, Korean cuisine continues to capture the imagination – with Korean barbecue meatskimchi and Bibimbap all popular national dishes available at restaurants across London.

Korean music (K-Pop) has also exploded on the national consciousness in recent years, primarily the result of Psy’s global smash hit ‘Gangnam Style’ topping the UK Charts in 2012 and becoming the 13th most downloaded single of all time in the UK. Trying to understand song lyrics often help to pique curiosity amongst many people looking to learn a language – and the popularity of K-Pop songs such as ‘Gangnam Style’ have certainly led more people to take a look at Korean language courses. The country has also enjoyed a renaissance in the popularity of its cinema over the last 20 years, with films such as OldboyThe HostOkja and Train to Busan all receiving positive critical acclaim in the UK.

Politically, the ongoing tensions between North and South Korea have also brought more worldwide attention and interest to this region. Kim Jong-Un's escalation of threats to both South Korea and the United States in recent months has helped raise international consciousness of the delicate political climate that has dominated this region over the last few decades.

As with Japanese, technology and business travel is one factor that has helped sparked a rise in interest in learning Korean in recent decades. With South Korea home to some of the world’s most innovative technology companies, the country is on the brink of becoming one of the world’s top 10 economies. Korean business etiquette places an extremely high value on personally getting to know business clients and partners. For many employees working in the technology sector or regularly travelling to the region for work, signing up for Korean courses can be incredibly helpful in making strong industry connections.

Language courses in London

City Lit is the largest provider of language courses in London, and in addition to our Japanese and Korean courses, we have plenty of choice if you're looking to #TrySomethingNew - whether it's French or Farsi, Swedish or Swahili….

Browse Japanese courses in London at City Lit

Browse Korean courses in London at City Lit

Browse our full range of language courses.