Chinese language learning has become increasingly popular on the African continent in recent years. According to the Office of the Chinese Language Council International, China has sent delegations of language teachers to Africa as many as 210 times. There are currently six Confucius Institutes and 20 Chinese teaching posts in 11 African countries.
Beijing Language and Culture University, famous for Chinese language teaching, has been sending teachers to Africa since the 1960s. Many of those that have teaching experience in Africa believe that Chinese language teaching will be even more gratifying after the Beijing Summit and Third Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
Africa's first Confucius Institute opens in Kenya
According to Gao Lianshan, a teacher who worked at Kenya's Egerton University, Chinese language teaching has developed very quickly in Kenya. Originally only Egerton University provided Chinese language courses, but now the University of Nairobi has a Chinese language program, too. In June 2004, the first Confucius Institute opened in Africa.
With China and Kenya acknowledging each other as tourist destinations and the rapid growth of economic and trade contacts between the two countries, more and more Kenyans believe that by learning Chinese they will have a more promising future, said Gao. Gao's students were undergraduate and graduate students as well as university staff. Even diplomats have asked to join the class in recent years. Until three years ago, announcements were made at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in English and Kiswahili. Now announcements are made in Chinese, too.
Mauritania begins civil service training courses
Zhu Zong'ai taught Chinese in Mauritania for three years. He said that despite the short history of Chinese language teaching in Mauritania (just 10 years), it is developing steadily. In Nouakchott University, Chinese is a compulsory course. Beginning this year, in addition to normal classes, the University also provides training courses for civil service. Students are very enthusiastic about learning Chinese. Zhu recollected that a farmer's son named Alhaiya loved Chinese culture very much but his parents wanted him to go abroad and study in the UK or US. Alhaiya worked hard to learn Chinese for four years. He was awarded a Chinese government scholarship and became a postgraduate student at Shanghai
's Fudan University
Tunisia trains local teachers
Chinese language teaching first started at the Higher Institute of Languages in Tunisia in 1998. Three years later the Institute upgraded its Chinese courses to a four-year professional university program. Lu Yingfei, who once taught in the school, said that the Tunisian Ministry of Education
established elective Chinese Language Courses in 2003. Last year, it requested that all applicants to the Chinese language major in universities finish related Chinese courses in high school. Since the beginning of this year, more than 10 schools have developed plans for a special program to teach the Chinese language.
Li Xiaoli, also once a teacher in Tunisia, told reporters that the Tunisian government has attached great importance to teaching Chinese and has gone to great lengths to train their own teachers. In the last two years, the government established a test to qualify Chinese language teachers. The Ministry of Education also opened a special branch for qualification accreditation. Fourteen teachers of Chinese have obtained the certificate and teach Chinese in high schools.
Chinese to become second foreign language in Egyptian high schools
Egypt was one of the first African countries to launched Chinese language courses. It has the largest number of students learning Chinese. According to Han Jiarui, a teacher who used to work in Egypt, three Egyptian universities have Chinese language departments. Cairo University has also established a Confucius Institute. Now, another 11 universities are preparing to set up Chinese language departments. The Egyptian Ministry of Education has acknowledged Chinese to be the second most popular foreign language in high schools.
By People's Daily Online