Rising Interest in Chinese Language Reflects Future Job Prospects for Lao Youth

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Lao students who study Chinese at the Confucius Institute. (Photo: Confucius Institute)

The younger generation in Laos is showing a growing interest in learning the Chinese language, recognizing the potential for future job opportunities amidst a significant influx of Chinese investors into the country.

In the academic year of 2023-2024, enrollment at the Confucius Institute, a prominent Chinese language institute at the National University of Laos, has surged dramatically. Figures reveal that the number of students nearly tripled in just two years, soaring from 193 students in 2021 to 562 in 2023.

Also, as Lao students began registering for the national university’s exam, the Chinese language department emerged as the most sought-after subject, with over 2,000 student registrations. This is the highest number among all subjects for the 2023–2024 academic year, signaling a shift in academic interests among Lao youth.

Phouangphan Latphakdy, a college student who studied Chinese as an extra-curricular course in the past, emphasized the manifold advantages of mastering the Chinese language, particularly regarding employment prospects

“Chinese is crucial, especially for work, given the increasing presence of Chinese businessmen and companies in Laos,” said  Phouangphan. “Proficiency in Chinese opens up numerous job opportunities and the potential for a good income.”

Phouangphan added that younger children should learn not only Chinese but also other languages, adding that being able to speak multiple languages enables better communication with the world.

Khamsay Phomachan, a university student majoring in English and concurrently studying Chinese, highlighted the substantial impact of Chinese investors and entrepreneurs on the Lao economy.

“Chinese investors and businessmen have influenced the Lao economy significantly; [that’s why] learning Chinese is very important to increase your salary and stand out as a top candidate when applying for a job,” said Khamsay.

She also mentioned that the trend of learning Chinese Mandarin has been expanding in Laos for years, with various centers and private schools offering language courses throughout the country.

Additionally, according to the Thai publication Thairath, despite the lack of a Chinese curriculum in schools, many Lao children are showing a strong interest in studying Chinese, with parents often choosing to enroll them in supplementary Chinese language classes as early as Grade 1, recognizing future job prospects.