Friday, 27 August 2010

Opening Korean Language in Singapore-Historical Moments

29 October 2008

Introduction to KLP in NUS Extension & NUS opened Korean in 2008.

Introduction to Korean Language Programme (KLP) in NUS Extension

NUS Extension was opened in 1960 as the Extramural Studies Department of the National University of Singapore. Now, NUS Extension has 3 major centers of learning, namely, Center for Enterprise Leadership, Center for Professional and Management Development, and Center for Lifelong Learning.
The Center for Enterprise Leadership offers selected courses and programs for top and senior management. The subjects include Leadership and Influence, Business Ethics, Strategic Management and China Business. The Center for Professional and Management Development offers a range of courses and programs for professionals and business executives. And the Center for Lifelong Learning offers Korean language courses, amongst many other courses, and in which NUS lecturers and non-NUS lecturers hold classes. NUS Extension has over 300 various types of long-term and short-term courses and the diploma courses in its 3 centers, so it is operated quite differently from most private institutes that are commonly known in Korea.

In October 2003, a proposal and plan were put up. After the initial internal inquiry, unlike the English and Chinese language courses which have faculties in NUS itself, the decision to open a Korean language course at NUS Extension itself was made in October 2003. And since its beginnings in early 2004, the Korean language course is one of the fastest growing courses in NUS Extension. (Initiated in Oct 2003, 480 in 2004, 580 in 2005, 1,000 in 2006, 1,500 in 2007)

Firstly, teaching method will be based on the Korean university textbook used by the Korean universities, and surveys will be conducted every year to understand students’ requirements. From the 2nd semester, overseas studies opportunities will be sourced out through universities in Korea and the Ministry of Education. These overseas short-term or long-term stints will help improve students’ ability and also upgrade the standard of the programme. Overseas studies scholarships can be provided to stress the importance of and give opportunities to immerse in the Korean culture, students will then be motivated to further their studies. In the following year, the school should aim to be the local KLPT (Korean Language Proficiency Test) test center. This will encourage students to pursue their Korea studies, and not only learn it as a hobby.

Secondly, access to Korean will promote greater understanding of the language. The Korean Ambassador to Singapore, Mr Ryu Kwang-sok, made a donation of approx 500 books(worth of US$7,000) to NUS Extension and two Korean university text books are currently available at NUS Central Library. It is important to have these books for research purposes and to understand the culture better, nonetheless, it is difficult to acquire Korean books and proper textbooks in Singapore, so it will great resource for the learners to search right information.

Thirdly, the department will hold Korean culture classes. TV dramas can be used to help improve listening and understanding skills; books and other visual aids can be incorporated in special classes for students to understand deep-rooted traditional Korean culture, apart from what is commonly known form popular culture. Those cultural pictures are donated specially and NUS Extension uses for Korean Cultural course.

The first Singaporean teacher to teach in NUS Extension is presently taking a master’s degree course in Korean language after receiving a scholarship from Korea Foundation.

If you ask me why? Then I might say....... "I consider myself as a teacher first and I have a passion for teaching. I think teaching is not just a process of transferring knowledge but inspiring student to develop the love for learning. I feel a strong need to open Korean program in Singapore. Surely I know it will create a variety of opportunities in many ways. I began teaching Korean at NEX (NUS Extension) only because of my passion for teaching at first. As the program begin to gain popularity, I began to see the possibility of opening Korean Language in universities. I don’t really know what drives me to do this, but I guess that it is because of my love for Korea and pride in Korean language as a Korean citizen and teacher. The language of a country represents the country itself and its culture, and is a powerful tool for communication and understanding each other. I hope this will open a gateway for academic research complementing and contributing to both countries’ social diversity and economic development".

NUS to launch Korean as a foreign language department in August 2008.
National University of Singapore has decided to launch a Korean language in August 08. NUS has many corresponding conditions to help meet Korea Foundation’s goal to globalize the Korean language, and thus KF (Korean Foundation) will provide full support as per below response.
KF said“The Foundation's screening committee recognized the significance of your university's initiative to launch a Korean language program in response to the increasing demand for Korean language learning evidenced by the NUS Extension, and in order to equip NUS students with Korean language proficiency for opportunities to participate in exchange programs between NUS and several Korean universities as part of global education.”
As a reference, many universities are interested in opening a Korean language department. But in spite of its strict examination, KF’s prompt response signals the strong will of the Korean government to introduce the Korean language to world-renowned universities.

Launching a Korean language programme at the world-renowned NUS holds more meaning than a mere set-up of a Korean language program or department in any university.

Firstly, there are, and will be, many bilateral ties between Korea and Singapore in economics, trade, tourism, education and culture. Many talents who will contribute in these fields are expected to be grown from this programme in this established university.

Secondly, specialized academic research can be accomplished. Currently, the understanding of the Korean language is based largely on culture contents due to the “Korean Wave”. By having specialized teachers and lecturers to teach in the Korean language programme, a more proper education system can be established. Under NUS’s expertise and systematic approach, research done by the students can narrow the academic gap between the two countries.

Thirdly, this is an opportunity for long-term study and development of the Korean language. As of now, undoubtedly, the popularity of the Korean language is due to the “Korean Wave”. However, if the phenomenon dies down, the learning interest will lessen accordingly. But establishing a program in NUS is for the long run, and not temporary.

NUS has done various research and inquiry before establishing this program. Much expertise has been employed to prepare for the launch in August 2008, as officially announced. NUS curriculum will take into account on NUS Extension’s successful Korean Language Program case and students’ feedback in NUS campus. Thus compared to the set-up of other languages’ program, the Korean language faculty should be more well-assured for its launch.