A girl shows her artwork during the 16th Chinese Bridge Chinese proficiency contest at the University of Latvia in Riga, Latvia, on April 13. XINHUA
When Faith Wanjiku graduated from the Technical University of Kenya last year, she immediately enrolled at the Confucius Institute in Kenyatta University. She wanted to learn Chinese, as she believed that it would help her land a good job.
She has just completed the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) 3 exam. HSK is a test of Chinese language proficiency for non-native speakers, organized by the Confucius Institute Headquarters.
However, this level isn’t enough for Wanjiku, who plans to pass HSK 6. “I want to increase my level of understanding and improve my spoken Mandarin,” she told China Daily.
And Wanjiku isn’t alone. The number of people taking the HSK reached 6.8 million in 2018, up 4.6 percent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Education said on May 31.
Chinese is becoming an increasingly popular choice of language to study around the world. Currently, middle school students in Russia can take Chinese as an elective language test in the country’s national college entrance exam, Sputnik News reported.
In May, Zambia became the fourth country in Africa – after Kenya, Uganda and South Africa – to introduce Chinese language to its schools.
And many English-speaking countries have shown an interest in allowing their students to learn Chinese. The US government announced the launch of “1 Million Strong” in 2015, a plan that aims to bring the total number of learners of Chinese to 1 million by 2020.
A 2017 survey by the British Council, the UK’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities, showed that Chinese has become the language that British parents most want their children to learn.
Behind the growing popularity of Chinese language learning is the international community’s positive attitude toward China’s future development, as well as the people’s longing to learn about Chinese civilization and culture, according to People’s Daily.
“I am fascinated with China’s history, culture and language as well as its economic development, and I think that studying in China could provide me with some great job opportunities, as I see growing investment and collaboration between the two countries,” Patcharamai Sawanaporn, 26, a graduate student at Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics from Thailand, told China Daily.
Indeed, it’s as the former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela put it, “if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”