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China-EU Language Exchange Program Launched

The European and China launched on Monday a language exchange program to providing opportunities for Europeans to study Chinese and understand Chinese culture.

"This language exchange program is an important step both in encouraging language learning and in fostering inter-cultural understanding," said EU Commissioner for Multilingualism Leonard Orban.

Orban and Chinese Vice Minister of Education Zhang Xinsheng officially launched the four-year China-EU Language Exchange Program, entitled "EU Window."

The European Union and China have maintained good cooperation in training high-level educational personnel, Zhang said.

Until 2007, the number of Chinese students studying in EU nations reached 193,000, while the tally of students from EU countries studying in China was 15,000, he said.

The exchange of language program would be helpful for mutual understanding of each other's culture and be good to "the development of EU-China relations," Zhang said.

The 2009-2013 project, which was presented on the occasion of the 10th China-EU Summit in November, 2007 and sponsored by the Chinese government, will provide opportunities for 200 European school teachers of Chinese language as well as 400 school headmasters from EU member states to enhance their Chinese proficiency and the understanding of Chinese culture.

The first phase of the program will last for two years and will consist of two activities -- Summer training for 50 Chinese language teachers from EU member states and a ten day study visit of 100 school headmasters and education administrators from EU member states.

In the context of EU-China structural dialogue in the field of education and culture, a first technical meeting between representatives of the commission and the Chinese Ministry of Education took place on Jan. 31, 2008 in Brussels.

The parties agreed on three main priority subjects -- language teaching, joint PhDs and education through sport -- to be developed into cooperation activities in the two forthcoming years.

The first activity will be the organization of a conference on languages to be held in Beijing in March 2009 which should coincide with the visit of Orban to China.

A steering group, made up of Chinese and European language experts, will be formed to prepare for the conference.

In the first edition of the China-EU language scholarship scheme carried out in 2007 for students, approximately 100 European students received scholarships to study Chinese in China.

Most of students came from Poland (23), Germany (17), Italy (15) and Belgium (8).

(Xinhua News Agency June 3, 2008)

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