Chinese language attracts Italian students during China Culture Year

09:12, October 21, 2010      

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A total of 18 high schools in Lombardy region, whose capital is Milan, have put Chinese in the curriculum this year, showing a growing interest towards Chinese culture in the Italy's most industrialized district.

Some 1,500 ordinary students throughout the northern region are studying Mandarin, which is becoming a foreign language more and more popular with Italy, following the recent Education Ministry' s decision to include Chinese among the curricular languages in high schools.

"Chinese is the language of the future. I am doing my best efforts to learn it, as I am sure to have done the right choice," a student of Milan's Manzoni High School, Camilla, told Xinhua.

Her classmate Sara said that she decided to study Mandarin after choosing China as a main topic of her middle school term paper.

"I was so fascinated by the vastness of this country and its millenary history that I decided to deepen its knowledge," she stressed.

"The most moving moment since I began learning Chinese was when our teachers took us to visit a Terracotta Warriors exhibition in Treviso," said 17-year-old Federico, adding that he particularly enjoys the deep relation between Chinese language and culture.

"On that occasion, I realized I can't wait to visit China and go close to all aspects of its multi-cultural treasures, from natural beauties to ancient traditions and culinary arts," he added.

For all the students who are having Mandarin classes every week with both an Italian teacher and a Chinese lecturer, Chinese language will be a subject of the school-leaving examination.

Mandarin teaching in Lombardy's high schools is part of the so- called "China Project", launched this year by the Lombardy Regional Department for Education and aimed at boosting partnerships between Italian and Chinese cultural and educational institutions through promoting Chinese language and culture teaching at all levels.

"Since I was appointed in 2000, I have always strongly believed in the importance of Chinese teaching in Italy as a bridge for further improving the good relations between the two countries," the Department's responsible for language policies, Gisella Lange, told Xinhua ahead of leaving for China with a school delegation on Wednesday.

"Our visit will be in conjunction with two important events, the ongoing Chinese Culture Year in Italy and the handover celebration between Shanghai and Milan," she said adding that some draft agreements will be signed with the Chinese institutions in the next days.

The introduction of Mandarin as a curricular language in high schools is an important step towards innovation for Italian school system, said one of Lombardy's best high school officials who will join the delegation, Massimo Pantiglioni.

"In the next years our students will have the opportunity to organize cross-cultural exchanges with their Chinese companions, which they are extremely happy about," he said.

"China is not so far as it looks. Although our school is in a small city, Mantova, we have struggled to add Chinese among the curricular languages. Since then our students have grown in number, therefore I can say we have won the bet," he said.



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