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China to improve standards of teaching Chinese as a foreign language
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16:30, August 04, 2009

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At present, more than 2,500 universities in over 100 countries have begun to offer Chinese language courses and there are almost 400 million foreigners learning Chinese as a foreign language.

Craze for studying Chinese continues to intensify

In America, over 600 schools are now offering Chinese classes, and Chinese language fever in Europe is the same. The UK's Department for Children, Schools and Families has already drawn up an outline course for Chinese language classes in secondary schools. Chinese language study in Asia has shown similar developments. There are 2 million people studying Chinese in Japan, and over 1 million in Korea with its 142 universities now offering Chinese classes. Indonesia currently has 1000 secondary schools offering Chinese classes. In Thailand, the popularity of Chinese has surpassed that of Japanese.

According to Cai Changzhuo, the department head of Guangxi Normal University's International Department, in the last ten years, Guangxi Normal University has received over 4,700 long-term foreign students and over 7,000 short-term foreign students. These foreign students do not only study Chinese, but also extend their studies to obtain a bachelors and masters degree, with over 20 majors available including tourism, economics, law, computer science and physical education. At present, Guangxi Normal University has over 1,800 foreign students, of whom 800 are long-term students from over 30 countries.

Chinese language education has reached a bottleneck

Cui Yan, a lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London in the UK, says that in the ten years that she has taught Chinese in London, the choice of teaching materials has been a difficult problem. Despite the high volume of materials published by large publishing companies in China, the texts in these materials are too long and the content is not new.

Maeng Joo Oeck, a teacher at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Korea, said that teaching Chinese in Korea is considered teaching a foreign language. Studying a foreign language is different from studying subjects where the accumulation of knowledge is paramount. Language study demands that students repeatedly drill themselves on things that they understand and remember. Sufficient class time is the most basic insurance for students studying a foreign language to achieve results.

Chen Juanjuan, an instructor at Maranatha Christian University in Bandung, Indonesia, said that there is a severe lack of local Chinese teachers in Bandung and that there is an aging phenomenon amongst the current teachers. For the past few decades, Chinese teachers primarily followed their ancestors in moving here or were native-born overseas Chinese. Most of these teachers are over 60 years old, and a new group of younger teachers is urgently needed to take over their teaching responsibilities.

Resolve problems in teaching Chinese one by one

In March 2008, China's Hanban launched "China's Chinese Language Common Course Outline." The "Outline" will provide guiding principles and theoretical basis for the compilation of new Chinese instruction materials. It will also change the strange phenomenon such as "edit teaching materials first, provide an outline later". Under the guidance of the "Outline," high quality teaching materials that are suitable for various countries, diverse regions and different levels will soon be available.

Beijing Language and Culture University instructor, Jiang Liping used the new Outline to edit "Charming Chinese," a new Chinese language textbook for students in Southeast Asia. This textbook will be used at the Confucius Institute in Southeast Asia.

Cai Changzhuo said that Guangxi Normal University accepts over 500 Chinese teachers from ASEAN countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia each year. These teachers go to Guangxi for teacher training and for other short-term language and cultural activities.

China has already established eight "Volunteer Program for International Chinese Language Teachers Training Bases." Between 2004 and 2008, Guangxi Normal University trained five groups of 271 international Chinese language teachers and received high praise from foreign schools.

By People's Daily Online

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