Chinese and German Officials Speak Highly of the Foreign Language Assistant Exchange Program for Primary and Secondary Schools

[Source]    Xinhuanet [Time]    2010-03-01 17:38:56 
 

On the evening of February 22nd, the Chinese Embassy in Germany held a Spring Festival reception for people engaged in Chinese language-related work. Both the Chinese and German officials present at the reception have placed much emphasis on the achievements of the ‘foreign language assistant exchange program’ for primary and secondary schools over the past few years.

Prof. Erich Thies, Secretary General of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs in Länder, Germany (KMK), said in a speech that Sino-German cooperation in education and technology had reached a very high level and has attracted worldwide attention. The program in primary and secondary schools has given a new dimension to bilateral cooperation. It has involved more personal contact and interaction between people, and is thus much different from the kind of cooperation that is experienced in the technology sector. In recent years, a number of pupils from both countries have visited each other’s schools, which have produced a positive impact on bilateral relations.

The Chinese Ambassador, Wu Hongbo, said that the quality of Chinese teaching in German primary and secondary schools depended on the capacity of their Chinese teachers and their teaching materials. At the Frankfurt Book Fair held last October, Hanban signed an agreement with the University of Göttingen to set up a fund called ‘Teaching Posts for Chinese Teachers’ Education’, assisting the university to set up fully funded teaching posts for courses such as ‘The Society and Economy of Modern China’ and ‘Teaching Chinese as Foreign Language’. The Chinese government will also lend its support to the program. In addition, the compilation of Chinese textbooks in Germany is progressing smoothly.

The chief of the International School and the Director-General of Culture and Communication at the Federal Office of Foreign Affairs said that the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research launched a “partner schools” program in 2008 to strengthen links between foreign schools with German courses and some primary and secondary schools in Germany. China was an important part of the program, which helped expand the network of German language schools in China. Currently, there are 57 German language schools involved and the number is expected to increase to 80 by the end of 2010. Last year, under the ‘partner schools’ program, about 2,000 German pupils were involved in exchange visits and the German side sent 18 teachers to China. In early June of this year, the conference of the Association of German International Schools, which is held every four years, will be held in Shanghai.

In 2007, Hanban and the educational exchange center of KMK reached a 3-year framework agreement on launching a foreign language assistant exchange program. According to the agreement, China and Germany exchanged assistant volunteers, sponsored by the two sides. Over the past 3 years, the Chinese side has sent 60 volunteers to teach Chinese in German secondary schools and the German side has sent 23 volunteers to Chinese foreign language schools. Since 2008, the Overseas Chinese students have begun to participate in the program as overseas volunteers. In 2009, the two sides signed a new 3-year agreement. According to the agreement, the Chinese side will send 30 volunteers to Germany every year. (Xinhuanet, Berlin, February 22, Reporters: Liu Xiang, Wu Mei)