If you visit Bak Touk Primary School around 5pm, you will notice students and young people running up and down to attend after-school language classes like Chinese, English, Korean and Thai.
Chhoun Manin, a 20-year-old student, said, “In few years, when our society will be more developed, there will be great competition for scholarships and job opportunities and if I focus only on one major at university and ignore foreign languages I will not have a lot of professional opportunities.”
Pech Bolene, general director of the Westline School and Northline School and the President Education Development Institute, said, “Generally, people fluent in a foreign language, especially English, have greater chances of getting a scholarship or finding a job, especially in the ASEAN community or in Western countries.''
Sophal Kanhanra, a young lady who can speak four languages, said, “My university major is in medicine but I have to know a few foreign languages in order to improve my communication skills.”
A great influx of foreign tourists and foreign investors in Cambodia has brought people to want to learn a foreign language.
Leang Lissang, a Korean language trainer at the Institute of Foreign Languages, said that some people are interested in Korean because they love Korean music and drama, some want to be translators, teachers or tour guides, while others want to move to Korea for studying or working. He believes that Korean language plays an important role in the business industry nowadays.
Students are not the only ones eager to learn a new language. Many small business owners, workers and employees need to learn another language for their job.
Sam Savat, a 29-year old Tuk Tuk driver in Siem Reap province, complained about the fact that nowadays everyone needs to speak a foreign languages, even tuk tuk drivers, as they need to be able to communicate with their customers.
Thong Keobunnath, planning officer at the Phnom Penh’s Department of Education, Youth and Sport, said that it is a good sign that Cambodian students and youth love studying foreign languages, as this improves their knowledge and skills and prepares them to succeed in a challenging job market.