Guardian Unlimited ran a report yesterday entitled ‘China to Train U.S. Teachers in Chinese‘:
The initiative will bring more than 150 guest teachers to U.S. high schools from China and immerse nearly 600 American teachers of the language in Chinese culture through summer institutes there, organizers said. It will also provide financial aid to nearly 300 American teachers seeking state certification in Chinese.
The Chinese government will provide $4 million this year for the initiative.
The rationale for this, according to China’s Education Minister Zhou Ji is that the Chinese language ‘is an important tool for the rest of the world to learn about China and to communicate with the Chinese people.’
Mandarin Chinese is already the world’s most widely spoken language. More than 200 million Chinese children are studying English, but only 24,000 U.S. children are studying Chinese, said Gaston Caperton, College Board president.
The study of Mandarin Chinese has of course been an issue of concern to Singaporeans. For the Ministry of Education in Singapore, the rationale is:
- Singapore has always benefited from being a bridge between East and West, and we must sustain that position.
- China’s ascendance in the world makes this role indispensable for Singapore’s future. We have to engage with China and be part of the flow of ideas, business and culture between China and the world.
- Equally fundamental is the fact that we are an Asian society, and our mother tongue languages give us our identity and confidence as a people.
The translation into policy can be viewed here.
Language policy has also been discussed recently by the authorities in the UK:
- The government decided to make languages optional at GCSE in England.
- It is focusing more on younger children to promote a long-lasting aptitude for languages.
- Its goal is that, by 2010, every child aged seven to 11 should be able to learn a language.
- In March 2005, the government announced that it would spend another £115m on providing foreign language teaching in England’s schools.
The UK authorities were concerned about:
- the capacity of young British adults to take advantage of EU-funded education and training schemes;
- wider implications for the employability and cultural awareness of the coming generation; and
- the country’s ability to protect and promote its interests abroad and to compete successfully.
For information on the multicultural policy for Victorian Schools in Australia, see this page.