By Chung Ah-young
Some 60 Korean language teachers from 31 countries have launched an association to solidify cooperation and exchange educational experiences.
The World Association of Teachers of Korean (WATK) was recently formed after overseas scholars, including John Y. Shim from Eastern Michigan University and Alex E. Kang of Korean Studies at University of the Humanities in Mongolia, agreed at the International Conference on Education for Koreans Abroad from Aug. 7 to 10 in Incheon, upon the necessity to better train instructors teaching the Korean language.
"There are environmental differences between Korean language schools targeting Koreans overseas and the government-led King Sejong Institutes teaching non-Koreans as a second language. We've decided to organize this association to communicate and cooperate in order to teach Korean and effectively promote Korean history and culture," said Shim, who will head the association.
Lee Gil-seong, who is a secretary-general of a U.K.-based Korean educational foundation and deputy head of the association, said that cooperation between these differing educational institutions was vital because "there is more demand for the Korean language because of the influence of ‘hallyu' or the Korean wave, and possible job opportunities in Korea."
Korean language schools abroad have been in conflict with King Sejong Institutes as the institutes are replacing their long-served mission teaching "hangeul" education for Koreans, particularly in the United States.
WATK aims to strengthen cooperation among overseas educators teaching Korean language, history and culture, and to develop better educational content and methods for overseas educational institutions.
Also, it will support scholarships for Korean language and other cultural programs in overseas Korean language schools, as well as Korean language contests to help raise awareness about Korea abroad. Non-Korean educators teaching Korean are welcome to join the association.
WATK will develop an educational program with a standardized curriculum to teach Korean that can be applied to diverse local needs.