Tue, Sep 27, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Ministry, NTNU launch office in bid to turn nation into Chinese-learning hub

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Education and National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) on Tuesday last week inaugurated the Office of Global Mandarin Education, with officials saying that they hope to devise strategies and integrate resources to promote the nation as a top destination for foreigners who want to learn the Chinese language.

NTNU president Chang Kuo-en (張國恩) said that when the university founded its Mandarin Training Center in 1956, the institute had only five students, but now about 6,000 students study Chinese at NTNU every year.

About one-third of the students who graduated from the Department of Chinese as a Second Language and the Department of Applied Chinese Language and Culture pursued a career as Chinese teachers at foreign institutions, he added.

With the help of the advisers who the ministry recruited from academia and business, the office is aimed at pooling resources from different sectors of society to promote the nation’s Mandarin education sector, he said.

The office will supply Mandarin teachers to ASEAN members in accordance with the government’s “new southbound policy,” while having a global focus when promoting the nation as a Mandarin-

teaching hub, the ministry’s Department of International and Cross-strait Education Director-General Yang Ming-ling (楊敏玲) said.

Through the joint efforts of NTNU and the ministry, 111 Mandarin teachers were dispatched to 16 nations to teach traditional Chinese, and many of them have built promising careers due to their outstanding work, Yang said.

One of the office’s missions is to identify foreigners’ needs learning Chinese and devise strategies and create teaching methods, she said.

As about half the foreign students studying at NTNU pursue further education after graduating from Chinese programs, 45 universities nationwide have set up language learning centers, which play a pivotal role in the ministry’s initiative to increase the number of foreign students who obtain Taiwanese diplomas, she said.

Responding to media queries about how the nation would respond to competition from China in the field of Chinese education, given the international prevalence of Confucius Institute branches set up by the Chinese government to promote Chinese education, NTNU vice president Sung Yao-ting (宋曜廷) said that even though China has spent profusely on sending teachers abroad to teach Chinese, Taiwan outperforms China with its animated teaching materials.

Sung said the most common criticism about the institute is that its teaching materials are laced with dogmas and that its teaching methods lack ingenuity.

With the help of the Internet, students who sign up for Chinese learning or graduate programs can obtain their diplomas online, he said.

Another edge Taiwan has over China is its technology-driven classes, Sung said, citing NTNU’s Smart Pinyin system, which automatically detects problems with foreign students’ intonation and corrects them.

“I think we have a pretty good chance [against China],” Sung said.

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