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Chinese Teachers Can't Meet Overseas Demand

The Chinese language has gradually gained popularity overseas during past two decades amid the country's rapid economic growth and enhanced influence in international affairs. However the trend has receded somewhat as there are not enough language teachers to fill the demand.
Newest statistics released by the Shanghai Normal University showed that more than 2,300 colleges and universities in 85 countries have opened Chinese language courses drawing 30 million students.
"However, there are extensive complains about lack of qualified Chinese teachers," said Yu Lizhong, president of prestigious Shanghai Normal University on an on-going China international university president forum.
According to statistics released by Indonesian Ministry of Education, the country needs 30,000 more Chinese language teachers.
German Leipzing University recruits about 50 students majoring in Chinese every year, but only 20 percent of them graduate. A source from the university explained that for German students, Chinese is more difficult than English, French and Russian. But another important reason for the high dropout rate is the lack of qualified Chinese professors.
There are more than 70 middle schools in Germany now opening Chinese language courses. But they also share the common problem of no competent Chinese language teachers. Normally, several hundreds of students in Germany only have one Chinese teacher and some Chinese language teachers working overseas did not receive standard language teaching training.
Some 1,000 of the nearly 3,000 universities in the United States have instituted courses in the Chinese language.
Newest statistics, released from the China National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOTCFL), show there are now approximately 1,000 teachers from China teaching Chinese abroad -- including 100 teachers sent by the government, 300 sent by universities and more than 600 overseas Chinese students.
Yu said investment made by the Chinese government in training Chinese language teachers is definitely insufficient.
Besides Chinese language teachers, the Chinese Proficiency Test centers, or HSK test centers are also insufficient.
To date, about 540,000 people from more than 120 countries worldwide have taken the HSK. China has set up nearly 60 HSK testing centers in 27 countries and regions, including Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Singapore, Canada and the U.S.. An additional 44 test centers have been established in 27 cities and regions in China, including Hong Kong and Macao.
Zhen Yao, a Myanmar student now studying in Shanghai Sea Transportation University said there were only two HSK test centers in his country, lagging far behind the actual need.
The Shanghai Normal University has decided to open more Chinese language teaching centers overseas to help fill the gap between the supply and demand of Chinese language teachers. 

(Xinhua News Agency October 16, 2004)

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