Quantifying Chinese Learning Growth

More than20 million people are now learning Chinese outside of China

More than 70 countries and regions had incorporated the Chinese language into their national education system by the end of last year as the language’s global influence continued to spread, officials from China’s Ministry of Education claimed at a news conference in Beijing last month.

They added that some 20 million people are learning Chinese outside of China, and it was adopted as one of the official languages of the United Nations World Tourism Organization in January.

To meet that demand, Chinese-language instructors are adopting new approaches such as the Global Chinese Learning Platform. Launched in October 2019, the platform had attracted more than 2.1 million users from 170 countries and regions by the end of last year, said Liu Hong, deputy director of the ministry’s Department of Language Information Management.

The platform has developed a mobile app that supports six languages—Chinese, English, Russian, Japanese, Korean, and Thai—he said, adding that it will support more languages in the future.

It is divided into different sections to support the needs of preschool, primary, and secondary school students. It also has special sections to assist students from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan as well as international students, Liu said.

The platform helped students at home and abroad to continue learning Chinese during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has a large amount of Chinese-language educational resources and offers an immersive learning experience, he added.

Officials from the ministry’s Center for Language Education and Cooperation, which organizes language exams, said the main test, the HSK, and other Chinese-language proficiency exams were taken 3 million times last year and that about 40 million students around the globe had now taken Chinese-language proficiency exams. They also explained that the HSK exams and other tests were put online last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and 484 test centers offered online tests, while 41 new test centers were established last year and 1,207 test centers have now been set up in 156 countries.

A Chinese-language proficiency standard to evaluate the skills and levels of international learners, issued by the Ministry of Education and the State Language Commission in March, is expected to be implemented on July 1. Using four basic elements of the Chinese language—syllables, characters, vocabulary, and grammar—the standard classifies the Chinese proficiency of international learners into three stages and nine levels. The six levels of HSK exams will be expanded to nine to reflect the new standard.

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