In­ter­est in learn­ing Chi­nese abounds

China Daily (Canada) - - XI’S VISIT - By HOULIQIANG in Cairo, Egypt houliqiang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Egyp­tians’ in­ter­est in the Chi­nese lan­guage has grown as trade be­tween China and Egypt reaches record highs. But as more stu­dents choose to learn Chi­nese and more univer­si­ties start Chi­nese de­part­ments, there is great short­age of Chi­nese teach­ers in Egypt.

Omayma Ghanem, a pro­fes­sor of the Chi­nese lan­guage at Ain Shams Univer­sity, which opened its Chi­nese depart­ment in the 1950s, said there were only 11 Chi­nese ma­jors in her class when she grad­u­ated from Ain Shams in 1983. Now there are more than 2,000.

WhenCairoUniver­sity started its Chi­nese depart­ment in 2004, it had 20 stu­dents — now there are 60 in each year of study. And the num­ber of stu­dents in Cairo Univer­sity’s Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute, launched in 2007, grew from 30 to 1,200 a year, said Re­hab Mah­moud, di­rec­tor of the univer­sity’s Depart­ment of Chi­nese Lan­guage and Lit­er­a­ture and dean of the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute. Egypt now has two Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes — the other is in Suez CanalUniver­sity.

Ghanem Egyp­tian open­ing said that more univer­si­ties are Chi­nese de­part­ments.

The list in­cludes Al-Azhar Univer­sity, Suez Canal Univer­sity, Fay­oum Univer­sity, Pharos Univer­sity, Hel­wan Univer­sity and Misr Univer­sity for Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy. More­over, Con­fu­cius In­sti­tutes are help­ing to set up­Chi­nese classes at some ju­nior and se­nior high schools.

Ghanem said that Port Said Univer­sity, Suez Univer­sity and Bani Suef Univer­sity are also con­sid­er­ing open­ing Chi­nese de­part­ments.

“There are far from enough Chi­nese teach­ers. Though the Chi­nese govern­ment has sent some Chi­nese vol­un­teers to as­sist in teach­ing, many more are needed. Many of the Egyp­tian Chi­nese teach­ers are very re­cent grad­u­ates and lack ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said.

Be­cause of the short­age, Ghanem is also the di­rec­tor of Chi­nese de­part­ments at other univer­si­ties. From 2005 to 2011, she held that post at Suez Canal Univer­sity, and she is now also di­rec­tor of two Chi­nese de­part­ments in Fay­oum Univer­sity, one in Fac­ulty of Tourism and Ho­tels and the other in the Fac­ulty of Lit­er­a­ture.

“Ain Shams Univer­sity has rich ex­pe­ri­ence in teach­ing Chi­nese, so univer­si­ties usu­ally turn to it for help when they start a Chi­nese depart­ment,” she said.

Liu Xing is a Chi­nese pro­fes­sor at the North China In­sti­tute of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy who cur­rently works at Cairo Univer­sity’s Chi­nese depart­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Liu, “China is an in­creas­ingly com­mon topic in Egyp­tian and other Middle East­ern coun­tries’ me­dia as trade be­tween China and Egypt con­tin­ues to in­crease. This has strongly aroused Egyp­tians’ in­ter­est in and de­sire to learn Chi­nese.”

In 2014, trade be­tween China and Egypt reached a record high of $11.6 bil­lion, and China’s non-fi­nan­cial di­rect in­vest­ment in Egypt rose to $100 mil­lion, in­creas­ing 86 per­cent year-on-year. China is Egypt’s big­gest trade part­ner.

Stu­dents ma­jor­ing in Chi­nese have bet­ter job prospects than other lan­guage ma­jors do, Liu said.

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