Offer East Asian languages

Despite the significance of East Asian culture at Biola and Southern California, we still fail to teach its languages.

Catherine Streng, Writer

The modern language department at Biola offers several incredible and beautiful languages: German, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, French, Swahili and even American Sign Language. But I believe the fact that it does not offer any East Asian language hurts the school.


Biola prides itself on the biblical integration it offers within courses in order to prepare us to enter the “real world” with solid faith. The mission of Biola University is “biblically centered education, scholarship and service — equipping men and women in mind and character to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.”

When I decided to attend Biola, I wished for Biola to prepare me to share and live the gospel wherever I may end up. I have always felt called to Northeast Asia, and imagine my disappointment when I discovered Biola does not offer any East Asian language courses whatsoever.


Christianity is steadily rising in East Asia. In fact, according to a recent article in the Telegraph, China is poised to become the “world’s most Christian nation.” Not only does 31 percent of South Korea identify as Christian, but it is also the second largest missionary sending country in the world — behind the United States.

As incredible and exciting as this is, there will always be room to grow. According to, only eight percent of China, 16 percent of Indonesia, 1.5 percent of Japan, 1.5 percent of North Korea, 1.1 percent of Thailand, 5.8 percent of Taiwan and 9.3 percent of Vietnam identify as Christian. I am certain I am not the only one feeling called to go to East Asia to preach the gospel.

Even for those who do not wish to move across the Pacific, the East Asian culture surrounds us here in Southern California. According to Biola’s website, 16 percent of Biola students are Asian American. The United States census indicates 14.4 percent of the population in Southern California is Asian alone. This may not seem like a high amount, but Asian Americans are listed third behind Caucasian and Hispanic. African Americans only constitute 6.5 percent of Southern California. Proof of this lies just outside our door. Take a drive down Beach Boulevard and you will pass several store signs written in Hangul, the Korean alphabet.


As mentioned before, Biola’s language department does offer many languages from around the world. In fact, it offers a language from every continent — German from Europe, Spanish from South America, Arabic from the Middle East and Swahili from Africa. Teaching a language from East Asia would round out the languages available for students to learn, thus securing a language for any continent a student wishes to learn more about.

Biola’s failure to offer East Asian languages undermines the school mission. The East Asian culture encompasses us while we live in Southern California. Many East Asian countries need to hear the Word, and any student feeling called to East Asia should be able to count on Biola to help them with their journey by making East Asian languages available to students.

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