Education, foreign policy and global business experts are bemoaning the news that thousands of public schools have dropped foreign language instruction within the last ten years. With one notable exception – the Chinese language.
Chinese language instruction has actually bucked the trend and is on the increase in all parts of the USA, due to financial backing from the Chinese government, who funds part of the salaries of native Chinese teachers abroad. It is estimated that across public and private schools in the USA, the number of schools offering Chinese language instruction has increased from 300 a decade ago to 1600 today.
China’s emergence as an important global trade partner has fueled the interest in the learning of the Chinese language all over the country. Previously it was mainly taught in cities with a significant Chinese population, such as on the East or West coast. But now Chinese language teachers can be found all across the nation.
Another influence upon the increase in Chinese language instruction is the popular school visit program, funded by the College Board and Hanban, a language council affiliated with the Education Ministry of the Chinese government, which subsidizes travel for US administrators and teachers to visit Chinese schools. Many Chinese language programs are initiated in the USA by the visiting educators upon their return.
Foreign language instruction is not stable in the USA, one survey notes. Many schools which offered Japanese language instruction in the 1980′s no longer offer it. It is anyone’s guess as to the longevity of this current trend to teach Chinese language in USA schools.