Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Vietnam's ministry of education said it is moving toward making Korean language a "first foreign language" that can be taught at elementary schools in the country.
Vietnam's national foreign language committee said Tuesday at a South Korea-Vietnam workshop at Hanoi University officials are exploring ways to integrate Korean language learning for students in Vietnam. Korean is likely to be selected next year, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
First foreign languages in Vietnam are languages other than English that are taught in elementary schools. In 2016, the government decided to include Russian, Chinese and Japanese in the curriculum, according to VN Express. Korean could come next, Yonhap reported.
Korean has been taught in Vietnam as a "second foreign language" since 2016, when courses in Korean began to be available at the middle and high school levels on a trial basis. Vietnam's plan is to teach the language at an earlier stage of a child's education.
The Korean-language pilot program has been implemented nationwide at six schools. More than 1,500 middle school and high school students in Vietnam are learning Korean, according to Hanoi.
South Korea's Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Park Yang-woo said at the workshop that the developments are an indication of progress.
"I look forward to the adoption of Korean as a regular second-language subject in Vietnam as soon as possible," Park said.
South Korean ambassador to Vietnam Park Noh-wan said at the event that he also "looks forward" to the full-scale adoption of Korean as a second foreign language at more schools in the country.
According to the Korean Research Association in Vietnam, Korean is taught at 32 Vietnamese universities. More than 16,000 Vietnamese university students are taking a Korean-language course, the group said.
South Korean pop culture has a large following in Vietnam, and Seoul has leveraged K-pop to expand Korean-language education.
The Chosun Ilbo reported in August that K-pop group BTS's agency, Big Hit Entertainment, partnered with the Korean government to produce a remote Korean language-learning course.
The program was made available at Vietnamese universities and in other countries, according to reports.