According to an article in Time Magazine, Sweden may “Add Mandarin to Primary School Curriculum.” With its education minister’s initiative, Sweden is looking forward to teaching Mandarin in all primary schools.
In a country where English language is mandatory for the young and French and Spanish are on the list of third-language choices, people seem to understand the importance of learning foreign languages in a global context.
“If you learn a foreign language, you have a plus point wherever you go,” says Prabin Bikram Rana, Deputy Director of Alliance Française de Kathmandu (AF), a French language and culture centre.Here in Nepal, too, the number of people learning to read, write and speak foreign languages has been growing. The increasing trend here shows that the wish to acquire the knowledge of a foreign language has been directly linked with academics, employment, and hobbies.
“In a global context, we all are supposed to be global citizens, and learning a foreign language is a big step in becoming a global citizen,” Rana explains.
Most of the educated people in urban Nepal speak more than two languages, thanks to compulsory English in high school and easy access to Indian television networks and Bollywood. So, we already have a large group of bilinguals here who can speak Nepali, English, Hindi and some other Nepali ethnic languages.
But still, there are a lot of people here who wish to add a foreign language outside the Indian subcontinent to their resume.
“The recent development in IT has revolutionized the way we communicate while it has also opened doors for academic opportunities abroad,” says Michael Chand, Director of Goethe-Zentrum in Kathmandu, a German language and culture centre.
Chand informed that most of the foreign language students are among those people who want to go abroad for further studies.
As thousands of students are going abroad for further studies, many of them are also taking foreign language classes.“Those who are planning to go abroad come here, as they have to learn a foreign language in their undergraduate studies,” says Rana.
“Germany is good for technical courses, so I’m applying there,” says Nikil Karanjit, 22, who has been learning German at Goethe-Institute for over a year.
“I’m thinking about going abroad for my further studies, and there’s also good scope for foreign language students in the tourism industry here,” says Shree Karki, 24, student of Spanish language, 3rd Semester, at Campus for International Language Studies.
Khub Raj Subedi, who is also a 3rd semester student of Spanish at the college, thinks the tourism industry in Nepal is one of the most important employment opportunity sectors for foreign language students.
During the EPS Korea project of Nepal Government, many Nepali youth rushed to Korean language centers to learn Korean.
“In a class with the capacity for 35 students, there are 200 students studying Korean language at the campus, and most of them study while standing,” says Subedi.
Similarly, there is also considerable number of Nepali youth learning Hebrew.
Besides a large number of Nepali youth learning foreign languages with the motive of going abroad for employment, the other groups of foreign language learners are those who want to work in I/NGOs and UN agencies.
“The students enrolled here at AF for French language range from SLC graduates to tourist guides,” says Rana.
“When you have the knowledge of a foreign language, you can yourself create opportunities,” says Rijendra Shrestha, French language instructor at AF.
“One can get a lot of employment opportunities if they learn a foreign language,” says Aman Shrestha, 29, Spanish language instructor at the Campus for International Language Studies.
“Besides, they also learn about the culture related with the language, and that makes their thinking wide,” he adds.
With the direct involvement of AF, institutions like Silver Mountain School of Hotel Management at Lainchaur, Little Angels’ School at Hattiban, Rupy’s International School ofTahachal and others are conducting French classes.
“The German government has made a decision to teach German in schools in different parts of the world to make the language popular,” says Chand.
Goethe-Institut has launched Pasch, a program to teach German in schools, under which 6th and 7th grade students of DAV Sushil Kedia Vishwa Bharati of Jawlakhel and Nobel Academy at New Baneshwor are running German classes in their schools.
“The best way to make teaching-learning of a foreign language effective is to incorporate foreign language courses in the high school curriculum,” says Chand. “Since our curriculum doesn’t have foreign language other than English, I think the best time to learn a foreign language is after SLC,” he adds.
“I think it’s good to learn a foreign language after Plus Two as the students are still teenagers and they are quite sharp at understanding new things,” says Shrestha.
“It’s mandatory for the hospitality majors to learn a foreign language,” says Rana. He also informed that many hotel management students are also learning French.
Alliance Française also offers Intensive Professional Class, a 40-hour French class for tourist guides twice a year during January-February and July-August.
Goethe-Institute also conducts language classes for tourist guides titled “Reiseleiter.” It was started in 1998 and it is provided only to license-holder guides every two years.
Foreign language institutes have surged in Kathmandu. In the Campus for International Language Studies alone, more than 10 language classes are conducted which include English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, and Tibetan.
source: Karki, Dinesh(2011),"Learning foreign languages ", republica, 2 August 2011
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