Chinese is new
language option in schools, The Palm Beach Post, Michael C. Bender,
April 27 2005
million people speak English as a second language, just 20 million
non-native speakers understand Mandarin.
U.S. schools are beginning to close that gap.
Enrolment in Chinese classes at the K-12 level in the United States
grew 65 percent, from 14,490 to 23,850 students, from 1997 to 2002,
according to a Princeton University study."
The Indian Express, The friendly dragon, PALLAVI AIYAR, June 15,
popularity of Mandarin Chinese is a case in point. Chinese is
already the most spoken language in the world, with three times as
many native speakers as English. Far from being geographically
restricted to China’s immediate neighbourhood, its spread across the
globe is being ensured by the Chinese diaspora. Thus, for example,
Chinese is now the third most spoken language in Canada, following
English and French. It is widely predicted that within a decade or
so Mandarin will have overtaken English as the most used language on
According to the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign
Language (NOCFL) in Beijing, there are approximately 30 million
people learning Chinese around the world and it is the mainland’s
stated purpose to ensure that this number grows to 100 million by
2007. Currently, more than 2,300 universities in nearly 100
countries offer courses in Chinese and thousands are flocking to
China’s shores in the hope of mastering the language. There are now
more foreign students in China (estimated at over 86,000) than
Chinese students abroad.
Not surprisingly, interest in the HSK, a standardised exam to test
proficiency in Chinese, similar to the TOEFL test for English, has
surged. From 2000, when only some 4,500 people appeared for the
exam, the number of test takers leaped to almost 22,000 in 2004.
Significantly, the profile of those taking the HSK has also changed
from comprising largely academics and linguists to include large
numbers of entrepreneurs and white-collar professionals.
Yearly 200 million
US dollars are invested in popularizing Chinese
With regard to the funds for Chinese popularity, Zhang Xinsheng
said, China has spent about 200 million US dollars annually,
including the area of overseas Chinese affairs, in the past two
years. As for a developing country with about 1,000 US dollars of
the per capita GDP like China, it is no small figure.
To let Chinese go to the world, the State Council approved to map
out "Project of Chinese bridge" in 2004 with eight measures to
improve Chinese teaching:
1. Accelerate to build Confucian institutes overseas;
2. Develop multimedia Chinese teaching in a big way;
3. AP Chinese task force will be popularized in 2,500 US
universities and colleges in 2006;
4. Launch the "Volunteer Program for International Chinese Teachers"
and "Methods for Identifying the Proficiency for Teaching Chinese as
a Foreign Language;
5. Accelerate to popularize Chinese proficiency test (HSK);
6. Build major Chinese-teaching bases by depending on famous
7. Assist foreign Chinese-teaching schools to set up Chinese
libraries and donate Chinese books;
8. Promote "Chinese bridge" influence on Chinese Proficiency
Competition for Foreign College Students.
Through these measures, by 2007, the Chinese government aims at
making the number of foreigners in China getting "the proficiency
certificates of learning Chinese as a foreign language" hit 10,000,
and at training 12,000 Chinese teachers abroad.
People's Daily Online