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Volunteers Go Abroad to Teach Chinese

Five Chinese teachers will leave for Mauritius this month as the first group of volunteers sent there to teach Chinese.

The five were recruited through the website of the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. These teachers, aged 24 to 30, all have bachelors or masters degrees and underwent two weeks of training before leaving.

The volunteers headed to Mauritius are only a part of the office's plans for this year.

The number of Chinese teachers abroad cannot meet global demand as a rising number of foreigners show a desire to study Chinese, said Vice Minister of Education Zhang Xinsheng.

More than 25 million people around the world are studying Chinese, and educational institutions in 100 countries are offering courses in the language.

Everywhere, there are shortages of qualified Chinese teachers. Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Egypt, South Africa, and countries in Europe and North and South America have asked China to send more teachers.

To meet the demand, the national office has implemented the Volunteer Program for International Chinese Teachers, to recruit, train and place qualified teachers in positions abroad

A regulation that is applicable to Chinese natives, overseas Chinese and foreigners has been issued to ensure volunteers are qualified to teach Chinese.

"It is hard to say how many volunteers will be sent each year, because the number of teachers needed in foreign countries changes quickly even within a year," said Yan Meihua, an official of the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. "For example, we sent 19 Chinese teachers to the Philippines last year. Now we have received a request from the Philippines saying that it needs 300 more."

The global fever to learn Chinese may be attributed to the country's rapid economic growth, and especially its accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, said Zhang.

(China Daily October 8, 2004)

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