메인메뉴 바로가기본문으로 바로가기

Korean Language Education at Secondary Schools in Thailand

A Korean language workshop was held in Phuket, Thailand (February 5-6), in response to the Thai government’s recent designation of Korean as a foreign language for Thailand’s middle and high schools. The adoption of a new foreign language, like Korean, creates numerous challenges for local instructors and educators.



Along with its emergence as a key player in Southeast Asia, Thailand has decided to include Korean among the foreign languages like English, Chinese, Japanese, German, French, and Russian, which are taught at its middle and high schools. As such, this designation has opened the door for Korean language education at the secondary school level in Thailand. The educational sector in Thailand seems to have concluded that it would be timely to incorporate Korean language education into its secondary school curricula due to the fact that mutual exchange between Korea and Thailand has shown a steady upward trend in various areas.

Extensive Discussion
Under such a changing environment for National education Policies, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Prince of Songkla University (Pattani) invited the teachers and educators involved with foreign language education at the secondary school level, from the country’s southern region, to an informational workshop, held in Phuket (February 5-6). The workshop was designed to gather the opinions and input of the teachers of local schools and to discuss the ways and directions for promoting Korean language education in Thailand.
The workshop began with opening remarks by Dr. Prathana Kannavakun, Vice President of Prince of Songkla University, Pattani campus, followed by congratulatory remarks and an overview of the Korea Foundation by Lee In-hyuk, Director of the Foundation’s Hanoi Office. Along with describing the Foundation’s policy focus on “selection and concentration,” Director Lee emphasized the importance of Korean language education at the secondary school level in Thailand for building a foundation for the education of human resources and the development of Korean Studies here.
As for the experiences of Benjamarachutit School in Pattani and Watmakutkasatriyaram School in Bangkok, where Korean language classes are currently offered, the representatives of these two schools noted that students have shown a positive response to Korean classes, comparable to that of the Chinese or Japanese classes. They also stressed the importance of support from Korean organizations for the dispatch of Korean instructors and the provision of materials for more effective Korean language education, in addition to identifying an urgent need to establish a systematic program at the Ministry of Education to train and appoint Thai teachers of the Korean language.
In an afternoon session of the first day, middle and high school principals agreed that the demand for Korean language education was increasing sharply, making it urgent to come up with ways to institutionalize key measures and to rapidly train teachers and develop textbooks and curricula for Korean language education. The key topics of discussion included the development of Korean language textbooks and curricula, along with the training of Korean instructors, to properly promote Korean language education in Thailand.
During a general discussion session, the workshop participants agreed that it would be helpful to identify a lead organization which would assume responsibility for the systematic development of curricula and textbooks, as well as the training of instructional staff. It was also suggested that this organization spearhead efforts to build a broad network to link together and efficiently manage Korea-related human resources in Thailand, and to define and delegate various functions and roles, so as to encourage widespread participation in the education of Korean and the promotion of Korean Studies.
Based on the lengthy history and experiences of Prince of Songkla University in the field of Korean language education, Vice President Prathana presented a proposal for the establishment an integrated system on the Pattani campus of the university to support Korean language education at the secondary school level, and to undertake comprehensive activities to promote Korean language education in Thailand, in cooperation with the Thai Ministry of Education and the Korea Foundation. She added that her university was in the process of forming a Korean Studies committee solely for the purpose of extending assistance to Korea-related programs at the university level.



Korean Language Initiatives
On the second day, Vice President Prathana of Prince of Songkla University met with Hanoi Office Director Lee Inhyuk for more detailed discussions on the ways to acquire financial support for Korean language education at the secondary school level in Thailand.
Dr. Lom Ciranukrom, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, of Chiang Mai University, one of the leading universities in the northern area of Thailand, stated that is university was prepared to play a key role in the development of Korean Studies and Korean language education in the country’s northern region. With Prince of Songkla University assuming a similar lead role in the southern area of Thailand, he pledged that Chiang Mai University would make meaningful efforts to build an educational infrastructure in the north for the advancement of Korean Studies and Korean language education. The workshop was meaningful occasion to discuss an overall approach for implementing Korean language education at secondary schools in Thailand. The workshop participants agreed to undertake a pilot program for Korean language education, under which Prince of Songkla University would play a central role, and then assess the program results and map out ways to improve Korean language education within the shortest possible period of time. Moreover, the workshop served to confirm the widespread enthusiasm and potential for creating a model program of Korean language education, in line with student demand and the particular characteristics of foreign language education in Thailand.
Prince of Songkla University is a prestigious university in the southern area of Thailand that offered the first-ever Korean language program in the country in 1986. As such, 2011 will mark the 25th anniversary of this program’s operation. The university has recently acquired about 25,000 volumes of Korean-related books and materials, along with actively promoting Korea and its language among the students of Thailand, and is also currently working on the establishment of a Korean cultural center on its campus. With the addition of Korean to the list of foreign languages for secondary school curricula, education of the Korean language and the promotion of Korean culture in Thailand are poised to enjoy a boost in popularity.