Nelson English Language Centre on Bo Aung
Kyaw Street in Yangon provides language courses for all
levels of students.
Pic: Lwin Mg Mg
ONE of the strongest features of modern times has been the spread
of different languages all over the world. Myanmar is not immune
to this trend and many people choose every year to study a second,
third, or even fourth, language.
Most of these people elect to study a foreign language to assist
their studies, find work or travel overseas. And there are many
places in Myanmar’s two biggest cities, Yangon and Mandalay,
where keen students can study new languages.
They include the Universities of Foreign Languages (UFLs), training
centres, monasteries, embassies and even private teachers.
Interested people can attend human resource development classes
in English, Chinese, French, Korean, Japanese, German and Thai
at the University of Foreign Languages in either Yangon or Mandalay.
Anyone who has passed their matriculation exam can attend these
classes and progress from a novice to advanced level through different
The beginner, intermediate and advanced courses are split into
two classes, or stages. Stage One in any of the levels costs K24,000
and will take six months to complete. Stage Two takes three months
and costs K12,000.
Following the successful completion of each level, students
receive a certificate to prove their accomplishment. After they
have completed the advanced course, students are allowed to attend
a diploma-level class.
According to figures from UFL English is the most popular language
The second most popular is Chinese, followed by Japanese, French
However, for the many people who have never finished their matriculation
but still want to learn languages, there are other options, especially
in the bigger cities. Private institutions offer courses for every
level of student.
Each class takes two to three months and it costs K20,000 to
K30,000. Private tuition is available but those who choose this
option can expect to pay double the normal price. Students may
also increase the number of classes they take per week to reduce
the overall length of the course.
Sayar Yang from Great Wall language training centre described
some of the teaching techniques he uses to help students.
“I teach Chinese language to my students using phonetic
symbols and I pay more attention to their spoken Chinese. I try
to tailor my teaching to what people will use everyday in their
jobs and when they travel,” he said.
Japanese is another popular choice with students, with the Japanese
Embassy holding Japanese Language Proficiency Tests (JLPT) once
a year. There are also examinations for Japanese university admissions
(EJUs) that students can take.
To better prepare students, there are a number of foundation
courses available through the embassy or other education institutions
such as Ya Ya Ya in Ahlone township, Learners in Botahtaung township
or the Hito Centre in Mandalay.
Classes for beginners cost about K30,000 and run for up to three
An alternative preparation class for EJUs costs over K100,000
but includes three subjects: Japanese, math and science or art,
said U Pyae Soan, general manager of Learners training centre.
Many people also choose to study French and Alliance Francaise
conducts classes for students at every level of competence.
The courses arranged through Alliance Francaise have the added
benefit of being recognised by the Ministry of Education in France
– a definite plus for anyone interested in studying at a
Charges for these classes are FEC13 per month and enrolment
for new classes begins in June.
Owing to the influence of South Korean soap operas and the career
opportunities offered by Korean companies in Myanmar, many students
choose to study this language.
Each two-month course costs K30,000 and there are preparation
classes for the Korean language proficiency tests (KLPT). There
are also Korean university syllabus classes, which range from
K7000 to K15,000.
Daw Khine Sabai from Jon Jin language centre said: “More
people are interested in the Korean language because they want
to work in Korea. This means more and more students take exams
conducted by the Korean Embassy.”
Some language centres struggle to find enough instructors and
there is shortages of German, Italian and Spanish teachers.
“Our teachers are also tour guides, so when the travel
season is in full-swing they cannot teach,” said one school
There has also been an increase in the number of students learning
Malay and Thai because of the potential job opportunities afforded
by these languages.