As China economy grows, so does Mandarin study
Mandarin Chinese has grown in popularity along with China’s economy and global business opportunities.
As of June 2015, Mandarin was the most widely spoken language in the world, with 955 million speakers.
Relations with China can be described as a vast and dynamic web of cooperative links that have been established early in Canadian history.
Because China is a major trading partner, it makes sense for Canadians to study the culture and language.
The Canada-China Joint Statement serves as a guide for building strong relations in four priority areas: governance, trade and investment, energy and environment, and health. Recently, education has been included in the statement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to strengthen cooperation with China, saying he wanted to “work together on economic political and cultural ties”.
The flourishing of the Chinese immigrant population increases the demand of Mandarin speakers in everyday settings. Many spaces in downtown Vancouver now display signs in both English and Mandarin, similar to public spaces in Richmond, Canada.
In BC, it is uncommon to see French, but Mandarin Chinese is prevalent. More than 1.3 million Canadian citizens are of Chinese origin, creating a huge demand for strong people-to-people ties. Businesses readily employ individuals with Mandarin fluency as the demand for such individuals soars.
Chinese immersion schools have become popular as many parents are placing their children in such programs as opposed to French ones. Schools in Coquitlam and Burnaby initiated the first immersion schools.
A well-established institute that offers an international education program is the Confucius Institute (CI) at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver. It was authorized by Hanban in July 2004. It is affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education.
CI supports the teaching of Mandarin at universities, colleges and secondary schools. There are almost 500 CI institutes on six continents. CI offers scholarships and holds the HSK Chinese Proficiency Test.
Hanban launched the HSK to better serve Chineselanguage learners. It is an international standardized exam that assesses nonnative Chinese speakers’ abilities in daily, academic and professional settings.
According to the Ministry of Education, there are 330 official institutions teaching Chinese as a foreign language around the world as well as more than 40, 000 foreign students enrolled.
Chris Madsen (left) receives the first-place award in the individual category from Education Consul Yu Changxue (right) at the final of the 2015 BC Chinese Bridge Mandarin singing contest on Nov 7.