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Survey reports Michiganders search online for Spanish, Japanese and Korean


According to a new study, Michiganders search for Spanish online more than other language. But Japanese and Korean are ranked right behind.

The rankings weren’t surprising to Christi Brookes, professor of French at Central Michigan University. Japanese has been popular for the last twenty years, she said.

But Korean is new, she said. It might be gaining popularity due to the skyrocketing fame of K-pop.

It’s possible that learning Korean could be a fad, like learning Russian was during the Cold War, Brookes said.

“When I was an undergraduate, there were still departments of Russian and Soviet studies and full departments of Russian," she said. "But in many cases, since the collapse of the Cold War, Russian studies really had bottomed out.”

Relevance is an important factor, she said. For example Arabic has not taken off at CMU, perhaps in part because it’s rarely depicted in pop culture.

"That has not taken off even though it is also a strategic language to have. It’s on the list of critical languages by the U.S. Department of State, as is Japanese and Korean," Brookes said.

Languages are easier to learn when you’re younger, she said, but language learning is still a good exercise for the brain even when you’re much older.

Ben Jodway is an intern, serving as a reporter for WCMU Public Media and the Pioneer in Big Rapids. He has covered Indigenous communities and political extremism in Michigan.