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Vietnam Introduces Korean, German as Foreign Language Options of Public Syllabus

Students at public schools across Vietnam now have two more choices in the pool of foreign languages for their formal education.

Recently, the Ministry of Education and Training approved a 10-year trial program to add Korean and German as foreign language options in the public syllabus, reports Tuoi Tre. Currently, public school students from Grade 3 to 12 have to take Foreign Language 1 as a compulsory subject in accordance with a policy that took effect in 2006.

Previously, pupils could pick one of four options: English, Russian, French or Chinese. In 2011, the ministry added Japanese as an option due to the increased cultural and economic exchanges between Vietnam and Japan, though the majority of schools across the country only offer English.

After the announcement regarding the recent additions, some parents and social media forums mistakenly thought that the two languages would be mandatory new subjects and voiced their confusion online.

The education ministry has since clarified that while Foreign Language 1 is indeed required, schools and students can choose one among seven languages. Depending on local demand and cultural preferences, schools can also organize classes teaching these as Foreign Language 2.

Some have praised the decision to offer more languages in the official syllabus, especially Korean, as a timely development. In recent years, the rise of Korean entertainment in Vietnam has brought a number of aspects of Korean culture closer to Vietnam, particuarly fashion, cuisine and tourism.

Data from the Vietnam General Statistics Office shows that in the first half of 2019, 77.43% of all foreign tourists in Vietnam were from Asia. Chinese tourists topped the list with nearly 2.5 million visitors, followed by those from South Korea at over 2 million travelers. Resort towns like Hoi An, Nha Trang and Da Nang are particularly popular among these tourists, resulting in whole communities being formed to cater to Korean visitors.

[Photo via Flickr user United Nations Photo]