“Chinese Fad” in France

Chinese becomes the trump card for job hunting in France.

Report on the website of valeur moderne,
France on March 18, 2010
I know nothing about Chinese!” This sentence, often heard in France, reflects a common opinion that Chinese is very hard to learn. But now, France has more Chinese language learners than ever before.

Last year, the number of the students choosing Chinese courses reached 25,687, almost three times more than that of 2004. The number of Chinese teachers this year has also risen to 388 from 135 in 2004. In France, 485 public and private schools teach Chinese. Chinese language has now become the fifth most popular foreign language in French schools, surpassing Russian and Arabic.

Among those students learning Chinese, French native speakers take up 90 percent. This achievement has not only been seen in France, but also in the United States, where Chinese is gaining popularity and is expected to overtake Spanish to become the most studied foreign language.

Why is Chinese language study catching on so quickly in the world? Joel Bellassen, the first Inspector General in Chinese Language Teaching at the French Ministry of Education, said, this is not because it is a fad but because this language enjoys international prestige.

Chinese, is the official native language of the world’s most populous nation. It is spoken by 20.4 percent of the world’s population, more than the number of native English speakers.

Another reason is that Chinese, is the official native language of the world’s most populous nation. It is spoken by 20.4 percent of the world’s population, more than the number of native English speakers. What’s more, 60 million overseas Chinese take their language to every corner of the world.

With the development of economic globalization, the statistics speak volumes. Now, China has become the third largest economy in the world, and the favorite destination of overseas Chinese living in Europe. International enterprises and companies ask their employees to master Chinese in addition to English.

The Chinese language is also powerful on the internet. Last year, the number of Chinese internet users increased to 384 million, about a quarter of the world’s total internet users. The two Languages English and Chinese, begin to compete on the internet.

Mastering Chinese means one almost secures a “trump card” in his or her career. Joel Bellassen said, “Whether you study or work in trade, medicine, information technology or mathematics, you will encounter this language in your career.” Many university students have realized it and begun preparing to include it in their curriculum vitae and resumés.

A high school teacher in Rennes, France, said that 10 years ago, students chose Chinese class for its “exoticism” but now they choose it for its usefulness.


Confucius Institute Magazine 08

pdfPublished in Confucius Institute Magazine
Number 08. Volume III. May 2010.
View/Download the print issue in PDF

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