The Chinese language has become the second-most studied foreign language course at the country's high schools following the Japanese language, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development said Wednesday.
According to a survey conducted by the ministry of all high schools throughout the country, more than 55 percent, or 1,715 of about 3,100 high schools in the country, were teaching their students Japanese as their second foreign language, while 631 schools out of the total were offering Chinese-language courses, Yonhap news agency reported.
Every high school student in South Korea is required to take a second foreign language course other than English. English courses are mandatory throughout middle and high schools.
The number of schools teaching the Chinese language has steadily been increasing, according to an official at the ministry.
The number increased from 351 in 2002 to 523 in 2003, then to 631 this year.
"As China is fast becoming a powerhouse internationally, the number of schools teaching the Chinese language as their second foreign language course is increasing," the official said.
In Seoul alone, more than 46 percent of all 545 high schools are offering Japanese language courses, while about 20 percent, or111 schools, are teaching Chinese language courses, the official said.
Those offering German language classes came to 17.2 percent or 94 high schools in Seoul, followed by 13.8 percent or 75 schools offering French classes.
(Xinhua News Agency June 30, 2004)