Monday, 26 April 2010

Korean Language in Australia

The immigration of Koreans has increased since very early 90's and is expected to grow more. No one knows how Koreans came to Australia and when but number of Korean population is increasing steadily. Although Korean Hangeul School on Saturday is available and Korean language course is available in universities or colleges, the students are rarely taking Korean language. Compare to New Zealand, at least Australian government has been supporting Korean schools (Hangeul School on Sat.) for immigrants’ second generation and foreigners (locals) but the given budget from both (Australia and Korea) countries are insufficient as our immigrant society is economically weak and teaching manpower and materials are lacking.

I often compare with my experience in Singapore when I started setting up Korean courses for first time in Singapore and feel that I took a time-machine in Perth. However, I can see a potential for Korean languages for our next generation and foreign students to experience the great deal of benefits from learning Korean Language one day as my students have been experiencing in Singapore from the zero generation in Korean language learning if we consider below points and contribute.

1. Korean government needs to provide intensive supports for the revitalization of Korean Language Education providers especially for Hangeul Schools and universities. Korean books are must be in local libraries for young learners to improve their reading skills that also gives a connection to the culture in Korea from young.

2. Australian government should have more confident in introducing Korean language as Korea is in their top trade business countries and top universities should adopt Korean language in their SAT II test system as well as other Asian languages.

3. Korean Hangeul Schools must consider to have more trained teachers with teaching supports such as textbooks, materials, updated information in teaching, right honorarium etc.) and the schools must provide proficiency tests for the learners yearly so that the learners may aim for working or studying in Korea with the scholarship or own. Language is a tool and these students will contribute the economy for both Australia and Korea.

4. Second generation children should speak more than one language from this era as many South Asian countries education system has already implemented in their curriculums (e.g.: The Bilingual Education Policy in Singapore, Singapore) from two decades ago. All parents should be aware of importance of speaking Korean as it is their identity in them. Following up and checking their study and practicing it together at home should be carried out and there are useful information in the internet as well.

5. Foreign Students should have a confident to explore to study the language and the culture as many countries are doing business with Korea. Korea business market has been aggressively expanding internationally from late 90’s as everyone sees Samsung, LG, Hyundai, logos around us because Korea is now a business hub of Asia. Masters courses with the scholarship programs are given to many international students in Korea and getting the schoparship has been getting comptitive among international students and this shows the strong demands among international students and new generation Koreans.

To the immigrants, How about if our children do not have the Asian’s values in them anymore nor other speaking foreign languge from very young? I met foreign parents enrol their chileren to Hangeul schools for them to learn Korean. Both parents are not Korans.

To the countries, are we able to avoid the multinational society in Australian culture from now? Do we put enough budgets on our education system including second or foreign language programs? Not only the education can be the investment for ten decades but also it is intangible cultural assets for both countries.

Today, people used to be busy to be westernized but people want to be orientalized with many reasons. I might be unrealistic to point out above points with my one year living in Perth but there is a hope for everyone to make a difference from zero generation stage for our children and locals who value Korean culture in Perth.

24 April 2010