With the advent of the integrated ASEAN Community in 2015, Thai students have become more interested in learning ASEAN languages. Although English is to be used as the working language of ASEAN, the languages of various countries in the region are also important as they will bring members of the ASEAN Community closer together.
Associate Professor Dr. Montira Rato, a lecturer at the Faculty of Arts of Chulalongkorn University, cited the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) as a major factor making Thai students pays greater attention to ASEAN languages.
She said that more students at Chulalongkorn University take the Vietnamese language as an elective subject each year. Previously, only a few students at the Faculty of Arts chose to study Vietnamese, but now students from other faculties, such as the Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Law, and the Faculty of Economics, have enrolled in the Vietnamese language course.
Dr. Montira, who is also Deputy Director of the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University, said that the Vietnamese language is not difficult to learn. Its sentence structure is similar to that of the Thai language. Learners should seek opportunities to communicate with Vietnamese speakers to make sure that they give each word its correct pronunciation.
The Office of the Basic Education Commission earlier reported that, among the ASEAN languages, Bahasa Malaysia has become the most popular language among Thai schoolchildren, as it can be used for communication with ASEAN people not only in Malaysia, but also in Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam. The languages of neighboring countries, such as Cambodian, Lao, Myanmar, and Vietnamese, are also being taught in many schools in Thailand.
While more Thais are interested in learning Vietnamese, the Thai language is also a popular subject in Vietnam. The Office of the Vocational Education Commission recently sent teachers to teach the Thai language in Vietnam. Many Vietnamese believe that Thailand will become a trade and investment center in ASEAN and that learning Thai will provide them with good opportunities to do business with Thai companies. A number of Thai factories are operating in Vietnam. Moreover, many Thai tourists visit Vietnam each year. For these reasons, learning the Thai language is getting a boost in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the National Food Institute, an independent organization under the Ministry of Industry, quoted a survey indicating that Thai food products in the Vietnamese market stand a good chance for further growth, as Vietnamese consumers recognize the quality of Thai products. This is considered an advantage of Thai consumer goods, so they are likely to gain more popularity in the Vietnamese market.