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Demand for Chinese language soars

Hu Meidong in Xiamen, Fujian and He Na in Beijing
Updated: Oct 12,2015 7:30 AM     China Daily

A shortage of Chinese language teachers has become an increasingly urgent problem worldwide, as more and more countries and regions have established frequent and close trade and personnel exchanges with China, according to participants at the Eighth Global Fujian Fellow Convention.

The convention, held in Xiamen, Fujian province, on Oct 9 attracted around 640 businesspeople, along with scholars and professionals from 54 countries and regions whose ancestral home is Fujian.

Didi Dawis, president of the Indonesia Fujian Association, said Indonesia has only about 1,000 Chinese teachers, far too few to meet demand.

“With increasing trade and communication between China and Indonesia, more and more companies from the two countries have established joint-ventures or liaison offices. These new companies and institutes need a large amount of talent skilled in Chinese,” he said.

“With Chinese language playing an increasingly important role in employment, many local high schools and universities have started Chinese courses. And we estimated that we still need some 80,000 Chinese teachers.”

Didi Dawis hoped that China would take Indonesia’s language needs into consideration and send more Chinese teachers.

In recent years, the Chinese language has become increasingly popular worldwide. Convention participants from other countries echoed Indonesia’s assessment.

“The first-generation Chinese overseas are still fluent, but for our second and third generations, command of the language is really worrying,” said Jimmy Cheng, president of the United Fujianese American Association.

According to Cheng, the United States government also noticed the importance of the Chinese language, and in such populous places as New York and California many high schools have launched Chinese courses. It has become the second language of many students.

“In the future, more and more schools and communities will open Chinese courses, so we also are in urgent need of high-level Chinese teachers,” he said.

He also pointed out that many overseas Chinese are eager to establish their own businesses in China, so they want to improve their language skills.

In Spain, the number of people taking Chinese language tests has ranked first in Europe for three years, and more than 25,000 people are taking courses. In 15 schools, Chinese has become compulsory.

Data from the headquarters of the Confucius Institute show that the number of teachers of Chinese overseas is increasing yearly. By the end of 2012, China had sent a total of 18,000 teachers abroad. The number is expected to reach 50,000 by 2020.

China is working out many ways to meet surging global demand. President Xi Jinping said during his visit to the US in September that in the next three years, China will support the studies of 50,000 Chinese and US students in both countries, and the US will provide opportunities for as many as 1 million students to learn Chinese by 2020.

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