The Straits Times
January 21, 2010
Sign of the Times: With the rise of China as a superpower, both the United States and China have made immersion into one of the world’s most difficult languages a priority, due to its implications for relations between the nations.
To dramatically boost the number of Americans learning, speaking, and teaching critical foreign languages, former president George W. Bush introduced the US$114 million (S$158 million) National Security Language Initiative in January 2006 to expand programmes from kindergarten to university.
The US Department of Education’s Foreign Language Assistance Programme has allocated millions in funding to schools wishing to start, beef up and innovate on Chinese language instruction.
Seeing the upsurge in interest as an opportunity to expand its soft power, China’s National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (also known as Hanban) has also been active in the promotion of Chinese language learning in the US.
[efoods]It has, for example, teamed up with the US College Board – which administers university entrance exams, the SAT and Advanced Placement exams – to recruit teachers from China to start new Chinese language programmes or teach existing ones in US schools.
‘I don’t see China’s rise or the importance of US-China cooperation on global issues like climate change and economic recovery changing any time soon,’ said Mr Livaccari.
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