A group of 60 tourist guides from Asian countries and Brazil on Thursday began a four-month Spanish as a Foreign Language course, the second such course offered at eight Colombian universities.

Colombia's assistant foreign minister, Patti Londoño, inaugurated the course at San Carlos Palace, the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Bogota.

The students come from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, China, South Korea and Brazil, Londoño told reporters, adding that the guides will study in certified Spanish-language training centers for four months, during which time they will be housed with Colombian families.

The program seeks to promote Colombia as a place to learn Spanish and was announced by the Bogota government last August under the slogan "To learn the best Spanish in the world, the answer is Colombia!"

"We have the best Spanish in the world; all Spanish-speakers acknowledge that," said Londoño, adding that this second course has 60 percent more participants than the first phase of the program.

South Korea's ambassador to Colombia, Choo-Jon Youn, told Efe that the program will encourage Asian tourism in Colombia and that this will increase when a peace pact - currently being negotiated - is signed between the government and the country's leftist guerrillas. EFE