Business / Industries

Spreading the right word to the world

By Fan Feifei (China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-20 07:48

Spreading the right word to the world

Indonesian students attend classes taught by Chinese teachers at the Pahoa school in Tangerang city, outside Jakarta. The demand for studying Chinese language and culture is on the rise in Southeast Asian countries, as many students are eager to learn more about Chinese heritage while boosting their job prospects. [Provided to China Daily]

Southeast Asia sees unprecedented need for Chinese language experts

With China's growing status in the global economy and closer cooperation with countries in Southeast Asia, the number of people learning Chinese in the region is now on the rise.

Consequently, the demand for Chinese teachers far surpasses the supply.

Yang Maolong, 26, never imagined he would find himself teaching Chinese in Yogyakarta, an ancient city on the island of Java in Indonesia. But it turns out that local people are very much interested in Chinese language and culture, he says.

Yang majored in Chinese at Taiyuan Normal University in the capital city of Shanxi province in northern China. Before Yang went abroad, he took a training course in teaching Chinese and culture.

He explains that a friend told him about the prospects of teaching Chinese in Indonesia in late 2012. "I am now working at a private language training institution. My students are aged from 5 to 50, and they all share a great passion for learning Chinese and culture," Yang says.

Indonesia is home to about 10 million ethnic Chinese, accounting for about 5 percent of the country's total population and comprising the largest number of Chinese people outside China. Of this number, 90 percent holds Indonesian citizenship.

The demand for Chinese teachers has soared in recent years, with two different factors driving demand.

"About 70 to 80 percent of the students belong to the third or fourth generation of Chinese Indonesians, but they cannot speak Chinese," says Yang. "Besides, many local Indonesians are learning Chinese to boost their employment prospects."

In some cities like Jakatra, Medan and Surabaya, which have the largest population of Chinese Indonesians, many primary and secondary schools offer Chinese lessons, regarding Chinese as a second foreign language besides English.

"We organize activities during Chinese holidays to showcase traditional Chinese arts, including playing the erhu, a traditional Chinese musical instrument, and writing calligraphy," Yang says.

Yang earns about 5,000 yuan ($815) each month. "Teaching Chinese in Indonesia has broadened my horizons and I have learned more about Indonesia through this opportunity," he says.

Yang hopes to open a Chinese language training school along with some of his friends in the future, mindful of the growing economic and trade relations between China and Indonesia and a more encouraging environment for Chinese language learning in the Southeast Asian country.

Zhu Xuefeng, president of Jingshihuanyu, a Chinese language teacher training and labor export company in Beijing, says that Southeast Asian countries, especially Indonesia and Thailand, urgently need 100,000 to 200,000 Chinese language teachers.

Spreading the right word to the world

Spreading the right word to the world

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