School principals to visit China next week to build contacts and sign teacher exchange agreements

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon Jun 25 19:48:13 UTC 2007


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    BEIJING, June 20 (Xinhua) -- With the demand for Chinese language
courses surging worldwide, a record 1,000 primary and middle school
principals will visit China next week to build contacts, sources with the
Office of Chinese Language Council International said here Wednesday.

    Office Director Xu Lin said the 1,000 delegates from the United States
and the Republic of Korea would visit 18 Chinese provinces and cities, talk
with Chinese counterparts and sign teacher exchange agreements.

    "The huge demand for Chinese courses overseas poses challenges and
opportunities," said Xu.

    Statistics from the US-based Society of Modern Language Research show
that the number of primary and middle school students learning Chinese in
the United States increased from 33,000 in 2002 to 50,000 in 2006. The
number of college students learning Chinese also leapt by about 50 percent,
increasing from 24,000 to 35,000.

    Xu said weekend Chinese classes in the United States run by American
Chinese had attracted thousands of people.

    "However, Chinese is still outpaced by French, Spanish, German and Latin
in the United States," Xu said.

    Statistics show that 70 percent of foreign language learners in the
United States choose to learn Spanish, 20 percent learn French, six percent
learn German and three percent learn Latin.

    Xu pointed out that the Office supported Chinese language courses
overseas. Last year, China sent 1,004 Chinese teachers to 80 countries and
1,050 volunteers to 34 countries.

    Xu said that China would encourage the use of diversified teaching
materials for different countries.

    "We will write and publish a teaching guideline, to which teachers can
contribute in order to enrich the content," Xu stressed.

    Prior to this, the Office of Chinese Language Council International had
sponsored the visit of 400 U.S. headmasters and 110 British headmasters,
most of whom signed agreements with Chinese counterparts.

    "Following the tide of university-level cooperation, more primary and
middle schools have become interested in offering Chinese language courses,"
Xu said.

    The Office says that 30 million people are learning Chinese the world
over, but predicts the figure will hit 100 million by 2010.

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http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-06/20/content_6269292.htm
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