UBD resorts to computer selection due to high demand for language classes

National 2 minutes, 9 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

JAPANESE, Korean and Mandarin are currently the three most popular languages among Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s Language Centre (UBD-LC) students, its acting director said.

Associate Professor Dr Noor Azam OKMB Hj Othman said that along with Arabic and French, these languages consistently receive high interest from UBD students every semester, with full intakes.

About 200 students are undergoing Korean and Japanese classes at the UBD-LC at any time, he said.

Due to such high interest from students, the centre has a “ballot system” in place which decides which students will get a spot in a desired language class. Dr Azam said that the centre sets a cap of 24 students per class, as that was the optimal number (in the centre’s view) for language learning classes and activities involving group-work and pair-work.

“For example, if we have 100 students registering for the 24 spots in a Korean Level One class, we’ll have a computer selection system that randomly picks which students will get to go in. “We think that’s the fairer way as everyone wants to get in, but we have to be fair to everybody, particularly at the introductory level,” he explained.

Dr Azam said that the centre is currently analysing data from a survey conducted last month to gauge language interest among students.

Findings from the last survey, which was conducted in 2010, showed high interest in Japanese, Korean and Mandarin, followed closely by Arabic. “We had predicted earlier that modern European languages would be the top choice.

“To us, (the findings) imply that students at UBD are looking and trying to engage with the outside world, but particularly in the region of Japan, Korea and China,” he said.

This tallied with UBD students’ preferences to go to these countries for their ‘Discovery Year’ under the GenNext programmes, he said.

Students who opted to continue studying these languages at these countries would receive credits which would be recognised by the UBD-LC, Dr Azam added.

“At the end of the day when students come back to UBD in Year Four, we will map the subjects that they have taken (overseas) and count the credits, and then award the students a minor degree (in the language they took),” he said.

Minor degrees in Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Arabic, French and Borneo languages (comprising of Puak Jati or indigenous languages such as Tutong and Dusun) are currently available at UBD. They are awarded following successful completion of six levels of a language over six semesters.

Classes in Malay, Tagalog and German are also presently available at the university.

The Brunei Times