As the world is witnessing an economic globalization and China's economic rise, "Chinese-learning craze" is also on the rise worldwide along with a constant increase of the number of foreign businessmen and students coming to China.
The fervor is mainly seen in a rapid expansion of foreign students from almost all the countries worldwide to China at an annual average rate of 30 percent in recent years and the fast developing discipline of teaching Chinese as a foreign language.
In 2003, totally 77, 715 foreign students came to study in China. The levels of the students advanced steadily and the forms of education also diversified.
It was disclosed at the national seminar on teaching Chinese as a foreign language, which opened on December 5, that, teaching Chinese as a foreign language has achieved considerable development. Currently, education for bachelor's degree in this field is provided at Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU), Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) and East China Normal University (ECNU) for the cultivation of teachers of Chinese. Moreover, the first doctoral program has been set up at BLCU.
Scholars in teaching Chinese as a foreign language have compiled over 400 kinds of textbooks, completed research on more than 100 subjects, and formulated three teaching guidelines, respectively for undergraduate education, long-term and short-term advanced studies, especially for foreign students in China. All these efforts have helped the discipline develop along a scientific and regularized path and gradually mature.
Li Yuming, Director of Information Administration Department under China's Ministry of Education, delivered a speech entitled "China's Peaceful Rise and Teaching Chinese as a foreign language" at the seminar. He said, China not only welcomes young people from all over the world to China for Chinese learning, but also will send excellent teachers abroad giving lectures.
Li added, the practices and experience of different countries in Chinese teaching should be studied seriously in a bid to promote the healthy spread of Chinese language in the world. A concept of "greater Chinese" should be established and the lingual communication among the global Chinese communities should be given attention for the different paces of spread between Chinese traditional and Chinese simplified, and between dialects and Chinese Mandarin, to be coordinated.
During the three-day seminar, experts will hold in-depth discussions on various topics, namely the evaluation system of teaching Chinese as a foreign language, cultivation of talents, curriculum, and the teaching for grammar, phonetics and Chinese characters.
(People's Daily December 6, 2004)