January 28, 2005 18:14
China is sending some 600 Chinese language teachers to Korean elementary and middle schools.
Zhejiang Online News reported Friday that 600 graduates from a teachers college in Zhejiang province would be sent to Korean schools after Hangzhou Normal University signed a deal with 16 school principals during their recent visit to China. The heads were tasked with negotiating the agreement on behalf of the roughly 2,000 Korean schools that teach Chinese.
Beijing's dispatch of the teachers is part of an ambitious strategy to make Chinese a global language. Late last year it established the China National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. Attached to the State Council, the body has set itself the target of increasing the number of foreigners learning Chinese to 100 million within five years. Currently, there are an estimated 30 million foreigners studying the language at 2,300 universities in 100 countries.
Beijing is setting up forward bases for the task around the world. Similar to Germany's Goethe Institut or the U.K.'s British Council, Confucius Institutes teach Chinese language and promote Chinese culture, with the first one opened in Seoul's Yeoksam-dong last year. China's quasi-state run news agency China News reported Thursday that Beijing also plans to open up several Confucius Institutes in the U.S. by next year. One Western diplomat in China said Beijing aimed to promote Chinese as an international language able to hold its own against English.
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