SEOUL, March 27 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s government and enterprises will strengthen support for local students majoring in minor foreign languages, as part of a long-term national development strategy, the education ministry said Monday.
The Ministry of Education and the National Institute for International Education unveiled a five-year policy plan calling for opening more education courses on minor foreign languages at domestic universities and colleges, and expanding job opportunities for their graduates.
The first phase of the new program will be implemented until 2021 in cooperation with business enterprises, which will play a role in offering jobs to the majors of minor languages, the ministry said.’
Separately from major foreign languages, such as English, French and Chinese, South Korea’s current law on the Promotion of Education of Critical Foreign Languages defines 53 minor languages as strategically necessary for national development. Arabic, Hindi, Swedish and Polish are among them.
At present, eight universities and 14 graduate schools in South Korea have a total of 33 minor foreign language departments, while experts have long asked for more systemic state support to foster specialists in the fields.
“Specialists in foreign languages will be fostered based on the government’s long-term and strategic measures to contribute to upgrading the nation’s globalization and competitiveness,” said Song Ki-dong, chief of the state-run National Institute for International Education.
According to ministry officials, the government will push for universities and graduate schools to establish more departments on minor languages, increase hiring of relevant teaching staff and expand overseas training programs for their students and professors.
Depending on the demand from potential students, some languages, like Thai and Lao, can be taught at the same department, while fusion departments, like the combination of Arabic and international trade studies, can be created, the officials said.