There is little question that the future prospects for Chinese language study in the China and other countries are brighter than they have ever been. On a regular basis, articles in the widest possible range of press and media outlets speak of the 21st century as being “the Chinese century” in the areas of economics, politics, and technology.
This scenario parallels earlier trends for the Russian language in the post-Sputnik years and the Japanese language during the 1980s. Russian and Japanese did not receive an impetus by government agencies, but the picture for Chinese seems brighter. Many U.S. leaders recognize that for the United States to maintain its place among the world’s superpowers, a deeper understanding of the language and culture of this country’s greatest trade partner, China, is essential.
Equally important is the recognition that for Chinese, a complex language with multiple dialects and varieties, it is a given that to achieve perfection in the language would require one to experience the everyday use and practicality of the language. This perception has yielded tangible results in the form of local, state, and federal economic incentive programs for developing long sequences of instruction in Chinese language and culture beginning at the elementary school level.
Many universities in China are offering fully funded and partial scholarships for Chinese Language Study which has created a large new sector that students can explore for their future endeavors. Applying for these scholarships can be difficult but the results can speak for themselves.
Given such conditions, one might be justifiably optimistic about the potential for a broadly based, well-articulated system to support and enhance Chinese language teaching.