The Education Ministry will be setting up language resource centres in Malaysian embassies abroad, said Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad.
The resource centres will enable the international community to conduct research related to the Malay language and have access to more information on the language, literature and culture in Malaysia.
He added that the move is in line with the ministry's effort to widen the use of the Malay language internationally and further action will be discussed during the upcoming South-East Asian Ministers of Education Organisation meeting.
“The ministry, through the Malaysian Students Department overseas and the Higher Education Department, will cooperate with Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) to carry out programmes such as sending work force abroad and setting up language learning centres there,” said Musa in his speech at the launch of the Fourth International Council for Malay (ICM) conference in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
The six-day conference, themed New Paradigm in the Teaching and Learning of the Malay Language to Foreign Speakers, is aimed at making the language interesting and easier to learn with the use of more effective learning tools.
Commenting on efforts made by the ministry to promote the study of the language abroad, Musa said Chairs had been set up in cities such as Wellington and Leiden to increase the standard of Malay studies at the international level.
“More Chairs for Malay studies will also be set up in education centres abroad, based on need and suitability,” said Musa, adding that the latest Chair was set up in Beijing this year.
The minister also called for closer collaboration among institutions abroad that offer language programmes to foreign students.
“Indonesia has the Teaching of Indonesian Language to Foreign Students programme and Australia has the Languages Other Than English programme to teach the Indonesian language to students in Australia.
“Such collaborations will produce teaching methodology and techniques which are effective for foreign students learning our language,” he said.
Malay language courses for foreign speakers and Malay communities abroad have also started in countries like Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, South Korea and China.
About 60 members of ICM, including representatives from over 20 countries, such as South Korea, Australia, England, Germany, and the United States, were present to discuss various aspects of the language.
Among the participants were specialists in languages such as Malay, Indonesian and Thai, and experts in literature, information technology, and communication.
A total of 10 research papers were presented during the conference, covering areas related to the teaching orientation of the language, teaching aids, and the review of the effectiveness of the lessons.
The conference ended with a forum at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia with three panel speakers – Dr Ismet Fanany from Deakin University, Australia; Prof Dr Bernd Nothofer from Frankfurt University, Germany; and Prof Dr Ramli Mat Salleh from UKM.