Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Santhush Woonjin Jeong last week expressed his pleasure regarding the decision to officially adopt Korean language as a foreign language by the government of Sri Lanka for the advanced level curriculum from this year onwards.
This has paved the way for the expansion of Korean language education in Sri Lankan schools. By this decision, students entering the 12th grade of national schools can choose the Korean language as a foreign language this year and in 2023 they can sit for the advanced level examination in the Korean language to enter the universities in Sri Lanka.
Ambassador Santhush added: “It is wonderful that the Korean language was adopted in the advanced level classes this year and can be adopted in the examination in 2023, when students who have learned Korean as a foreign language will sit for the university entrance examinations.
“It will greatly contribute to the promotion of our bilateral ties. The Korean Embassy will extend its fullest support by coordinating online capacity building programmes for teachers of Korean Language in Sri Lanka with the National Institute of Education to ensure a strong foundation for Korean language education.”
The Ambassador elaborated that learning the Korean language would open the window to many job opportunities in Korea. The Korean Government policy of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has further elevated the engagement in labour cooperation in recent years. About 23,000 Sri Lankan employees are presently in Korea.
Around $ 520 million were transmitted by them from Korea to Sri Lanka in 2019. The migrant workers bridge both countries in more ways than one, as they continue to contribute to the economic advancement of both Korea and Sri Lanka.
Ambassador Santhush Woonjin JEONG has held constructive discussions with Education Minister Prof. G.L. Pieris, in close cooperation with the National Institute of Education and National Education Commission on how to promote Korean language education in Sri Lanka.
Based on these fruitful commitments, the Education Ministry and the education institutes have been very cooperative and instrumental in the decision to adopt Korean as a foreign language for the advanced level classes from this year. Currently, Korean language is taught as a foreign language for secondary classes up to ordinary level examinations.
Sri Lankan students have rapidly grown interest in Korean culture including K-pop music, K-dramas and K-movies, and it led to a growing desire to learn the Korean language. It is noteworthy that the Korean language learning in a classroom has exposed the students to a variety of other parts of Korean studies, including politics, trade, history, and more.
Until last year, however, Korean Language was not offered as a foreign language option for Advanced Level classes, so students had to take a two year break after ordinary level studies in learning Korean, even though they wished to pursue Korean Language studies in the university.
It is fortunate that Korean Language is now given for students in the Advanced Level classes. However even though many students are willing to pursue a formal Korean language class in the advanced level stream, currently the number of Korean language teachers does not meet the growing needs of students in Sri Lanka.
Against this backdrop, last year in August 2020, the National Institute of Education (NIE) in collaboration with the Korean Embassy introduced innovative approaches to improve Korean language education by launching online capacity building programmes for teachers of Korean language in Sri Lanka.
This provided an opportunity for many Korean language teachers to receive a professional training. The Ambassador expressed the unwavering support and assistance of the government of Korea in the expansion of Korean-language education in Sri Lanka continuously in the years to come.
The Ambassador revealed that despite the differences of our two cultures we are united by the mutual respect and love shown to each other’s culture and language. He stated: “More Sri Lankan youth should be encouraged to learn the Korean language and become important assets to promote Korea-Sri Lanka friendship.
“I hope that friends from all walks of life in Sri Lanka will continue to work together to take our bilateral relations to another level and create a brighter future for our two countries. It is our strong belief that the student exchanges and cultural relations will keep strengthening and therefore will continue to make a greater contribution to consolidating our ties.”