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Learning Chinese becomes popular in France

By Lin Weiguang (China Youth Daily)

15:11, May 16, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

Chinese language education has developed rapidly in France in recent years, and has become a national phenomenon in the country, according to officials from the French Ministry of Education. The ministry has designated sinologist Joel Bellassen as the General Inspector of National Education for Chinese Language, in order to further promote the development of Chinese language education.

Bellassen, whose Chinese name is Bai Lesang, recently said that nearly 30,000 middle school students in France are studying Chinese. If about 3,100 Chinese language learners in 480 overseas international schools are taken into account, the number of French middle school students learning Chinese will reach 33,000. Furthermore, 16,000 college students and 2,000 pupils across France are also learning Chinese.

The HSK Chinese proficiency test only had over 100 test takers in France in the mid-1990s. The number of test takers exceeded 1,000 in 2010, and reached 2,200 in 2011.

French media said that the learning Chinese craze among French students has a lot do with the rise of China's international status. Bellassen believes that the Chinese language not only possess the charm of a language and culture, but also represents the economic strength of the Chinese-speaking world. Great Chinese proficiency has become a trump card for young job seekers in France, and a socially recognized skill.

French daily newspaper Libération recently said in a commentary that China's economic vitality is encouraging the French people to learn Chinese. Most business schools in France now offer Chinese language courses, and some of them have even made these courses compulsory.

Read the Chinese version: 法国:学习汉语成为“全国性现象”

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