The Fourth National Chinese Language Conference began in San Francisco Thursday evening, as China's rapid growth spurs demand to learn the language among Americans.
The annual conference was aimed at encouraging dialogue in the field of Chinese language education and ensuring wide-scale success in the United States.
About 1,500 participants from K-16 education across the United States are gathering to hear expert-led sessions, share best practices, visit schools and enjoy cultural performances at the three-day forum.
Visiting Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong spoke at the opening ceremony.
In recent years, it has been widely agreed upon by the U.S. public that the study of Chinese language has evolved as an effective tool in repositioning China-U.S.relations, bringing up talents who know each country well and constructing strong ties in political, economic and trade, cultural and other related areas.
With the continuing development of bilateral ties and the uplift of China's stature and clout on the global arena, the U.S. has witnessed a consistent increase in Chinese language learners across the education system. Chinese has become one of the most important foreign languages Americans are studying.
It is estimated by the Ministry of Education in China more than 4,000 U.S. elementary and secondary schools are teaching Chinese to more than 160,000 students in total.
"First Daughter" shows off her Chinese to Chinese President
Sasha Obama, the U.S. president's nine-year-old daughter, was among the welcoming mass on the White House lawn when Chinese President Hu Jintao paid a state visit to the United States on Jan. 19. Hu stopped in front of the flag-waving girl and said hello to her.
At a state banquet held afterwards, Sasha practised her Chinese on the visiting Chinese president.
"The president pointed out... his daughter, Sasha, is a very young girl but her class is studying Chinese," Ben Rhodes,a White House deputy national security adviser said. "She's under 10 years old and they're studying Chinese."
The anecdote illustrated Americans' desire to get to know China better, with more people studying or doing business in the country, he said.
The news received wide publicity and served as a testament to the steady popularity of Chinese in the country, as more Americans hope to learn more about Chinese culture and play a role in the exchanges between the world's two giants.