• Sweden edition
 
'More Swedish kids should learn Chinese'

'More Swedish kids should learn Chinese'

Published: 04 Dec 2012 12:13 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Dec 2012 12:13 GMT+01:00

"China's political and cultural influence is increasing," Anna Neuman, political advisor to Education Minister Jan Björklund, told The Local.

In unveiling the plan, which tasks the National Education Agency (Skolverket) with developing a curriculum plan for teaching Mandarin, Björklund called Sweden's current focus on teaching European languages "outdated".

The agency is expected to deliver its proposed curriculum for both compulsory and high school students in 2013, in time for it to come into effect for the 2014/15 academic year.

"Because Mandarin uses symbols, we cannot expect students to advance as quickly in their studies as they do in for example French or German," Neuman said to explain the need for a new curriculum.

But it will likely be several more years before Mandarin is as common in Swedish schools as other foreign languages.

"Mandarin won't be available to Swedish students as widely as French, German and Spanish for about 10 to 15 years," Neuman explained.

Neuman added that more teachers will also have to be educated in order to meet future demand.

At present, Swedish sixth graders who chose a third language in addition to compulsory studies in English and Swedish get to chose from French, German or Spanish.

Spanish was introduced about 40 years ago.

The singular focus on Mandarin, rather than languages spoken in other emerging economies like Brazil or India, doesn't worry members of Björklund's staff.

"There are many other languages that one could take into consideration but China is the world's biggest country and the world's second-largest economy. It might soon be the largest economy," Neuman said.

At present, very few Swedish students have access to Mandarin studies, but teachers in the field report of an attitude change towards the language.

"From 2007 all the way up to 2009, parents would call me and say their kids couldn't take Mandarin because it was too hard," Meisang Fredmark, a consultant to principals who want to introduce Mandarin in their schools, told The Local.

"But nowadays, if a student wants to drop out, their parents instead call me to say they have convinced their child to continue."

"It's a clear attitude shift for the parents."

Fredmark was pleased with the government's announcement this week.

"It was expected and welcome. I'm glad they are intending to give Mandarin the same status as other languages," she said.

In addition to consulting, Fredmark also teaches Mandarin to children as young as three.

She explained the youngsters often have "well-educated" parents who work for multi-national companies and are keen to introduce their kids to Mandarin at a young age.

She added, however, that her teenage pupils are motivated to learn Mandarin for other reasons.

"For the high school students, the motivation is more that they have to make career choices and they understand that knowing Mandarin will make them unique," Fredmark told The Local.

Ann Törnkvist

Follow Ann on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

21:25 December 4, 2012 by Peter1234
And next Swedish students should learn Somali or Persian?

I lived 4 years in China and I did not need Chinese, but I wonder very much how little is known about this country and how much ithe possibilities are overestimated by the Western countries. China is a developing country, nearly bankrupt (yes, bankrupt! believe it or not!), causing the West more headache than help. The education level is very low (also for political reasons), there is no legal security, understanding of quality is not existing and stealing intellectual property is not considered as something bad at all. Moral is very low and egoism is going to be a main characteristic of the people (also thanks to the one child policy) and corruption is everywhere.

Do you not think that learning Mandarin in such environment is wasting time and reources? I would much more like that our young generation learns to understand what is really going on in China. Our politicians, CEOs, etc. do not realise, that they are victim of a Chinese propaganda show when they are going there for there 2 day visits. You need to leave Beijing and Shanghai and stay for a while to realise that, what is happening in China is probably the biggest social disaster in the world.
22:35 December 4, 2012 by weilking
Peter1234, Stay in Europe, this is the planet only for you!
01:53 December 5, 2012 by Carbarrister
I have made many trips to China and agree with most of what Peter1234 says nevertheless China's influence will only increase over the next century. Millions of Chinese children are learning English as fast as they can but there is a billion more who will only speak Mandarin, Cantonese or one of the other dialects. They all share the same character set. I see no problem of teaching Chinese but proficiency will be a challenge.
03:53 December 5, 2012 by JoeSwede
why not learn German.... that's our biggest trading partner.
Today's headlines
Science
Swedish women in two-year sex pill study
Contraceptive pills have been linked to mood swings. Photo: Shutterstock

Swedish women in two-year sex pill study

Three hundred women from across Sweden are taking part in a study designed to demonstrate that modern contraceptive pills don't lead to decreased libido or mood swings. READ  

National
Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe
The ship was rescued on Thursday. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

Stockholm 'sinking' oil spill ship safe

After fears a ship carrying around 52 tonnes of oil could sink in Stockholm's archipelago, Sweden's Coast Guard said the vessel had been towed to safety. READ  

National
Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal
A scene from a video of the attack published by Dagens Nyheter

Dog attack policewoman acquitted on appeal

A policewoman accused of letting her dog attack a drunk man while she repeatedly hit him with a baton, has had her conviction overturned by a court in Stockholm. READ  

Entertainment
What's On: October 31st - November 7th
Uma Thurman will soon be on her way to Stockholm. Photo: TT

What's On: October 31st - November 7th

Halloween fun and an international film festival are the big events hitting Stockholm this week. We cast our eye over the capital and the rest of the country for the best activities to check out this week. READ  

International
Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark
Gottrid Svartholm Warg. File photo: TT

Pirate Bay Swede found guilty in Denmark

Sweden's Pirate Bay Founder Gottrid Svartholm Warg was found guilty of hacking crimes in a Danish court on Thursday. READ  

National
Malmö loses out as rare toads move in
The European green toad. Photo: H. Krisp (WikiCommons)

Malmö loses out as rare toads move in

After a rare species of toad moved into southern Sweden's Malmö, builders have had to tone down massive expansion plans in the area. READ  

Politics
Palestine recognized as state by Sweden
Sweden's Foreign Minister is Margot Wallström. Photo: TT

Palestine recognized as state by Sweden

The Swedish government has officially decided to recognize Palestine, with the move announced in a speech by the country's new Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. READ  

Interview
Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween
For ten days, Globen is transformed into a giant pumpkin. Photo: Shockholm

Stockholm's shocking take on Halloween

American Bill Schacht missed the spooky outfits, family feasts and charity events he associated with Halloween when he moved to Sweden. So he did something about it. The Local meets the founder of the capital's annual Shockholm parade. READ  

Business & Money
Huge losses for energy giant Vattenfall
A Vattenfall plant in Germany. Photo: TT

Huge losses for energy giant Vattenfall

Swedish energy company Vattenfall has reported losses for the third quarter in a row. READ  

International
Malala donates prize winnings to Gaza
Malala receives the Children's Prize from Queen Silvia. Photo: TT

Malala donates prize winnings to Gaza

UPDATED: Girls' rights champion Malala Yousafzai, who was in Sweden to accept the World's Children's Prize on Wednesday, said she would use all her winnings to help rebuild schools in war-ravaged Gaza. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
People-watching: October 30th
National
Sweden remains fourth best for gender equality
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sport
World Cup ski race on 'fake' Stockholm slope
Blog updates

29 October

Scariest day (Blogweiser) »

"This is what’s frightening me on Halloween. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OFZVCu8J0&list=UUJu5J7jG4uoYSjWbpFsJBuQ Follow my posts on FB. ..." READ »

 

24 October

Editor’s blog, October 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Get ready to read our weekly digest of Swedish news in less than 60 seconds. The..." READ »

 
 
 
Society
An Arctic tradition: hunting and handicraft
Society
Stockholm taxis offer free therapy sessions
National
The Local meets Health Minister Gabriel Wikström
Gallery
Property of the week: Österåker
Society
Homeless turtles get Stockholm police ride
National
Construction worker has 'Sweden's best beard'
National
Italian musician jazzes up Sweden's Lapland
Gallery
Zlatan's career in pictures
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: October 25th and 26th
Lifestyle
'Swedes are funnier than they think'
National
Swedish town 'like Venice' after heavy rains
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

1,005
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN