On September 12, the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy in the UK held a welcome ceremony to the Chinese teachers from China. In order to meet the increasing need for students learning Chinese in the middle schools and primary schools of UK, British Council and HSBC Bank employ 86 Chinese assistants this year to teach Chinese in UK.
In the ceremony, Minister-counsellor Wang Yongda of the Education Section first delivered a speech and extended the welcome to the delegated of British Council and HSBC Bank and the Chinese assistants from China.
Minister-counsellor Wang emphasized in his speech that the language is the basis for the mutual understanding of people. English had become the first choice for the study of foreign languages by the Chinese, he hoped that Chinese could also had its due position. Chinese is one of the official languages in the United Nations and the language with the largest users in the world; China is a country with an unbroken culture and a history of 5,000 years, learning Chinese is like grasping the tool to understand the Chinese civilization. Learning Chinese has practical meanings in nowadays when there are more and more exchanges and economic activities between China and UK.
When Secretary of State for Education David Blunkett of UK visited China in 2000, he reached a consensus with Chen Zhili, Minister of Education at that time: make more Chinese speak English and make more English people speak Chinese. China has made great efforts to promote English and has made great achievements. As a comparison, the efforts by the UK government leave much to be desired.
Since the UK government made the foreign languages as the selective course for students aged 16-18 in 2005, the number of the students learning a foreign language have been declining year by year. In order to constraint the declining trend, the UK government began to include the lessons of foreign languages in the curriculum for the primary schools, the pupils can choose what ever kind of foreign languages.
In recent years, Chinese are gradually becoming a hot choice for the UK students, the number of the students learning Chinese are gradually increasing and the number of the schools making Chinese a required course are also increasing, some famous private schools, such as the mainstream schools as Brighton College, also make Chinese a required course.
In order to meet the need for the development of Chinese in UK, China has made a lot efforts, and the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy in the UK also offered active assistance, there are 10 Confucius Colleges in UK, Chinese assistants are dispatched to UK, books are presented, Chinese Bridge World Undergraduate Chinese Contests are held, visits to China by presidents of UK middle schools and primary schools are organized and participation in the summer camp by middle school students or pupils is arranged, all these are the specific measures to promote Chinese. At present, the major factor affecting the development of the Chinese teaching in UK is the short of Chinese teachers. China is negotiating with the UK education departments to organize some projects so as to train the Chinese teachers.
The Chinese assistant project organized by British Council and HSBC Bank relaxes the shortage of Chinese teachers in the UK middle schools and primary schools to a certain extent and plays an active role to improve the level of Chinese teaching in UK middle schools and primary schools, to improve the Chinese skills of the middle school students and pupils and to promote the exchanges between the Chinese schools and UK schools.
At last, Minister-counsellor Wang hoped that the teachers could work hard, promote the establishment of relationship between the schools where they taught and the schools in China, promote the language teaching and cultural exchanges between the teachers and students, strengthen the understanding of the UK culture and make contributions to the continuous development of the friendship between the two peoples.
Then, Ms. Olga Stanojlovic, Director of the Education and Training Department of British Council, delivered a speech. She thanked the teachers for coming to UK, she said that as Chinese was an important language, there was no excuse for the UK students not to learn Chinese, she also hoped that the Chinese teaching in UK could be further developed with the joint efforts of the UK government and organizations, Chinese Embassy, National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language and the teachers.
Ms. Lorraine Thomas, Executive Office of the Education Fund of HSBC Bank, pointed out in the following speech that HSBC Bank had always paid attention to the language, the persons with multiple language skills had rather advantages when applying for positions with HSBC Bank. Just for this reason, HSBC Bank sponsored many projects related to language teaching, especial Chinese teaching; apart from the Chinese assistant project, there were also Chinese contests of UK middle schools and primary schools, annual meeting of assistants and school-level cooperation every year.
The Education Section prepared delicious food for the Chinese assistants, and the ceremony ended in a happy atmosphere. The Chinese assistants expressed in succession that they would cherish this chance and vigorously promote the popularization and promotion of Chinese teaching in UK.
The Chinese assistants of this year will be dispatched to all places over UK, from north Scotland to south England, the number of the assistants also increases from 19 several years ago to 86 this year, these facts reflect the trend of extensive development of Chinese teaching all over UK.