Chinese came next with 189 schools, followed by French with 52 and German with 47. A growing number of high school students are selecting Japanese and Chinese as their second foreign language.
As for Spanish, only four schools are offering the language course and two foreign language high schools are teaching Russian.
However, no schools are running Arabic language classes, which some 300 million people in the world use. Ironically, Arabic was the most selected language by Korean students for the college admission test last year.
With this trend, many German and French teachers have given up teaching their majors and are teaching other subjects such as Korean literature and English.
Accordingly, universities are reducing admission quotas for German, French and other unpopular language departments.
I was told people selected Arabic because it was easier to look smart in it compared to, say, in Japanese, Hanja, or German, subjects many students study. A Korea Herald article last week confirms that:
Of the nearly 100,000 students who took the optional second foreign language section in last year's College Scholastic Ability Test, 29.4 percent chose Arabic. Many students believe it is possible to get high standard scores in Arabic without studying much because no high school teaches the language.
Only 33 universities across the country require scores in this section, where students pick one from the six foreign languages -- German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Arabic -- or Chinese characters. Arabic was added to the list of elective CSAT subjects in 2005.
I posted the exam used back in November, and if you click through this Naver link, choose a source, and scroll down to 5th period you can see the foreign language questions and answers. For those who don't read Korean, the choices are: German, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, French, and Chinese characters as used in Korean. The Japanese exam is here*, as a .pdf file, and the answers are here. What do you think? Easy? Hard?
* I fixed the link. 미안해.