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As China grows, its language spreads globally

Beijing, Jan 31 (IANS) With the rapid economic growth of China, the Chinese language is getting increasingly popular with students across the world causing a surge in the number of learning centres of the language globally.
Preliminary statistics show that approximately 40 million non-Chinese worldwide have learned Chinese as a foreign language, Beijing Review reported.

Liu Quansheng, head of the Confucius Institute at the University of Maryland, said China’s rapid economic growth has attracted Americans to study Chinese. With branches in 88 countries and over 230,000 students, Confucius institutes are playing a key role in the promotion of the language.

The institutes, which are non-profit educational organisations promoting the teaching of Chinese and Chinese culture outside China, train language instructors and promote cultural exchange and cooperation between China and other countries. The Confucius institutes also offer joint programmes with local universities and secondary schools.

The institutes provide authentic language-teaching resources, including textbooks, to Chinese language learners and hold proficiency tests for the certification of language teachers.

“More and more Americans want to learn not only the Chinese language but also the Chinese way of thinking and values,” Sheree W. Willis, executive director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Kansas, told the Review.

Echoing the opinion, Gregory Lee, first vice principal of Universite Jean Moulin-Lyon III, said that because of trade with China, more and more French people are becoming interested in Chinese language and culture.

The first overseas Confucius institute was established in Seoul in 2004. By November 2009, a total of 282 Confucius institutes and 272 Confucius classrooms had been set up in 88 countries, with over 230,000 students.

Besides, more than 160 educational institutes in 50 countries have applications pending to host Confucius institutes.

The number is set to increase with the boom in global trade with China as a result of its fast-growing economy, which surpassed Japan in January to become the second largest in the world.