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Top College to School Police in Languages
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The country's top foreign-language college is to run training courses for police officers in Beijing as part of the efforts to ensure a "language-barrier-free" Olympic Games.


Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), the oldest of its kind in the country, yesterday inked a framework agreement with the city's police bureau, promising to provide help both before and during the Games.


The school agreed to set up a language-training center on campus and hold regular classes. It said it would also help the bureau to develop an online language course.


In return, the bureau said it will help the school improve its campus safety education and recruit more BFSU graduates, especially those majoring in languages other than English, whom it urgently needs.


Zhao Yuan, director of the bureau's training department, told China Daily that the bureau might also employ 40 to 50 volunteers from BFSU to help answer emergency calls during the Games.


She said that while operators at the capital's 110 emergency headquarters can now handle calls in English, they are not skilled in any other languages.


"Therefore, we hope we can get some help with languages other than English, such as French, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic," she said.


She added that although emergency calls from foreigners currently account for only a very small percentage of the total, this is likely to increase sharply during the Olympics due to the large numbers of visiting athletes and tourists.


"Many visitors will have difficulty communicating in Beijing because of the language barrier. So, as the police, we should help them," Zhao said.


Yang Xueyi, Party secretary of BFSU, described the agreement as "win-win" situation.


"As school that teaches the largest number of foreign languages in the country, we're glad to have the chance to make some contribution to a safe and smooth Games," Yang said.


Beijing police introduced an English-language program for its officers in 2001.


Bureau figures released yesterday show that some 23,000 of them about half the total have since received the Beijing Oral English Certificate.


Zhao said that by the end of the year, about 60 percent of Beijing's police officers should have passed the test. She said that during the Games, officers who are fluent in languages will be deployed in places where foreigners gather.


(China Daily April 6, 2007)

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