Demand for Mandarin on the rise: report

By Song Wei (
Updated: 2010-07-13 11:00
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Chinese Mandarin is now in hot demand around the globe, Lianhe Zaobao, a Singapore-based Chinese language newspaper reported on Sunday.

The report says China has established over 300 Confucius Institutes and 300 Confucius Classrooms in more than 90 countries and regions to teach Chinese and promote Chinese culture in the past five years.

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But China cannot meet the demand, Xu Lin, the Chairmen of Hanban (a public institution affiliated with China's Ministry of Education) said at the annual meeting of Confucius Institutes in Singapore late in June.

Xu used the United States as an example. Five years ago, only 200 schools taught Mandarin Chinese. Now, over 2,000 schools teach it.

Xu said she was getting at least 40 emails per day from universities throughout the world asking to have Confucius Institutes set up by cooperating with Hanban, requesting more Mandarin teachers, or asking for funding to expand Mandarin teaching buildings.

"The biggest difficulty we are facing is a lack of teachers," Xu said. For example, in Thailand, 500,000 students are learning Mandarin. Hanban, which has 12 Confucius Institutes in Thailand, has to provide 1,000 Mandarin teachers who can also understand Thai.

As for how many Confucius Institutes China is going to set up, Xu said she was hoping the number could catch up with Alliance Francaise, the world's largest schools of French language, in ten years. "They have 1,300 schools in the world, and so that is my dream."