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Thai students flock to learn Chinese

02-14-2013 08:46 BJT

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In response to the rise in both Chinese tourists and the country's importance on the world stage, the number of Thai students taking Chinese language classes has also tripled over the past 5 years. And the Thai government is pushing for even more students to take up the language before the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. But Mandarin’s rise in popularity has also led to a shortage of teachers.

Many people call it the ‘language of the future’ and it is spoken by 15% of the world’s population. As China becomes increasingly important on the world stage, a greater number of young Thais are wrapping their tongues around tones and memorizing thousands of characters of Chinese. It has a reputation of being the hardest language in the world to learn and many of the students here at Sri Ayutthaya school in Bangkok say that learning Chinese requires patience and nothing short of a photographic memory.

Natniya Kittananun is one of the brightest students in the class. But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. This is her 3rd attempt after dropping out twice due to the sheer difficulty. She has a brother who has chosen to focus on English, but she believes that her knowledge of Chinese will open more doors of her in the future.

In response to the rise in both Chinese tourists and the country's
importance on the world stage, the number of Thai students taking
Chinese language classes has also tripled over the past 5 years.

Kittananun said, "We are about to enter the ASEAN Economic Community, other countries are looking to invest in China, so knowing their language is very important. If we do not learn, we can not compete with other people."

And Natniya’s parents couldn’t agree more.

"We are about to enter the ASEAN Economic Community, other countries are looking to invest "I would personally like my son to switch to Chinese, but its up to him. If I push him too hard, he would quit. But for my daughter, she enjoys learning Chinese. All I have to do is support her and she will go far."

For parents, having their kids learn Chinese might mean they could have an edge in an era when China is a rising economic power. It’s a sentiment that has become increasing popular as Chinese is now one of the most popular foreign language options for Thai students.

To cater to this growing need for learning the Chinese language and culture, 22 Confucius Institutes have been established in Thailand, more than any other country.

Usanee Watanapan, Deputy Director of Basic Education Commission Office, said, "Both the Chinese government and Hanban recognize that Thailand is a country that facilitates Chinese studies more than any country in the world. So China is supporting Thailand to create more centers to meet the demand.”

In response to the rising demand, the Thai government has laid out plans to bolster the teaching of Mandarin in schools. However, with enrolments growing 3-fold in the past 5 years, educational institutions are struggling to find enough Chinese language teachers to meet the rising popularity.

Currently, around 800,000 Thai students are learning Chinese, but there are only 1,200 native speaking teachers. To facilitate elementary schools, high schools, and Universities, The Education Ministry says that the number of teachers needs to be tripled.

It is not expected to replace English as the world’s main language in the near future. But in Thailand, hundreds of thousands of young students are nevertheless hedging their bets.

In response to the rise in both Chinese tourists and the country's
importance on the world stage, the number of Thai students taking
Chinese language classes has also tripled over the past 5 years.

In response to the rise in both Chinese tourists and the country's
importance on the world stage, the number of Thai students taking
Chinese language classes has also tripled over the past 5 years.

In response to the rise in both Chinese tourists and the country's
importance on the world stage, the number of Thai students taking
Chinese language classes has also tripled over the past 5 years.

 

Editor:Zhang Jingya |Source: CCTV.com

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