It is reported that there are more than 100 million people living outside China who are learning the Chinese language. In more than 60 countries, Chinese language teaching has been incorporated into their national education systems, with more than 170 countries opening Chinese courses or setting up Chinese programs in schools. In many overseas regions, the number of Chinese language learners is exploding.
For example, Chinese language courses are now available in primary and secondary schools in Washington, D.C. and every U.S. state except South Dakota, ranking the fourth most widely taught foreign language in the country's education system, according to a survey released in June.
In contrast to foreigners' mania for the Chinese language, however, a lot of people in China, including students, attach more importance to English than Chinese studies. As a result, even a big fraction of college students in the departments of Chinese language and literature are not good at their major. But many of the students poor in Chinese grab high scores in English tests and can speak fluent English.
Science students do even worse. Statistics from China Central Television show that 29.7 percent of non-English major students spend the majority of the four-year campus time on English learning. Chinese language courses, however, are widely neglected.
Few people in China worry about not having a good grasp of Chinese, while English language proficiency certificates are highly valued. With the rise of China's status and influence in the world, Chinese people should first love and learn their mother tongue, so that this beautiful language can gain greater popularity around the world.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Workers' Daily on November 6)