• Sweden's news in English
 

'More Swedish kids should learn Chinese'

The Local · 4 Dec 2012, 12:13

Published: 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a curriculum plan for teaching Mandarin, Björklund called Sweden's current focus on teaching European languages "outdated".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
One dead after shooting and stabbing in Rinkeby
Police examining the murder scene in Rinkeby. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

One dead after shooting and stabbing in Rinkeby

1 hour ago

One person has been killed and three others injured in a shooting and stabbing incident in the Rinkeby suburb of Stockholm.

Swedish police: ‘Help us find kidnapped man’
Anton was abducted in a red VW Passat. Photo of car (not involved in incident): Praiselightmedia, via Wikimedia

Swedish police: ‘Help us find kidnapped man’

3 hours ago

A 27-year-old man was beaten and abducted by several people in a red VW Passat earlier this week in Gothenburg.

Sweden Democrats: 'We will run the country'
Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the Sweden Democrats, speaking on Saturday. Photo: Rickard Nilsson/TT

Sweden Democrats: 'We will run the country'

1 day ago

In his keynote summer speech on Saturday in his hometown of Sölvesborg, Jimmie Åkesson, the leader of the far-right Sweden Democrats, predicted that his party would one day be strong enough to run the country and called for a referendum on immigration.

Plane crash-lands on Swedish road
Photo: Adam Ihse

Plane crash-lands on Swedish road

1 day ago

A light aircraft was forced to land on Highway 27 outside Borås at lunchtime. No one was harmed.

The Local investigates
Should more people live on boats in Stockholm?
House boats at Pampas Marina. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Should more people live on boats in Stockholm?

1 day ago

Living on a boat in Stockholm used to be the preserve of the rich. But as the city's housing crisis swells, could more affordable floating accommodation help provide a solution to the shortage? The Local investigates.

Julian Assange
Sweden and Ecuador set to launch Assange talks
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photo: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Sweden and Ecuador set to launch Assange talks

2 days ago

Sweden is seeking to reach a deal to pave the way for prosecutors to question Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where the Wikileaks founder has been holed up for over three years as he fights an extradition to Sweden over rape allegations.

Stockholm bin men rescue doomed kitten
'It trembled like a leaf'. Photo: Bekir Mercil/Private

Stockholm bin men rescue doomed kitten

2 days ago

Stockholm waste collector Bekir Mercil and his two colleagues were on Friday hailed heroes of the day after they saved a terrified kitten who had fallen into a garbage truck, stuck in tonnes of food waste headed for the incinerator.

Trio in court over attack on Swedish serial rapist
Umeå held a demonstration against sexual violence toward women when Lindgren was released in July. Photo: John Gunseum/TT

Trio in court over attack on Swedish serial rapist

2 days ago

UPDATED: Three men have been remanded in custody over a weekend golf club attack on one of Sweden's most notorious serial rapists who was released from prison earlier this month.

Swedes debate capital's first Airbnb rent ‘ban’
The apartment is located in Stockholm's trendy Södermalm neighbourhood. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Swedes debate capital's first Airbnb rent ‘ban’

3 days ago

UPDATED: A landmark ruling banning a woman in Stockholm from renting out her apartment via the home-sharing website Airbnb after a rent tribunal likened the letting with running a "hotel business" on the premises has sparked debate in Sweden.

Text messages to warn Swedes of terror attacks
Swedish Interior Minister Anders Ygeman. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Text messages to warn Swedes of terror attacks

2 days ago

The Swedish government wants to step up its fight against terror with a new strategy that includes warning civilians to stay away from certain geographical areas via text message.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

National
This Swedish teen was told she was 'too big' to be a model
Lifestyle
Six reasons to stay outdoors this week
Gallery
People-watching: August 26th
Sponsored Article
Nine places where Stockholm needs more English
National
Rescued baby lemur gets new Stockholm home
Blog updates

28 August

Editor’s blog, August 28th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, It was all glitz and glamour in Sweden this week as Stockholm Fashion Week got..." READ »

 

18 August

Preteritum eller presens perfekt? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hello everyone, It’s grammar time ! I got an interesting question about the past tense vs present..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Stockholm Fashion Week turns island into Mars
Sponsored Article
'It gives you the guts to believe in yourself'
Gallery
Property of the week: Stora Essingen, Stockholm
National
Swedish crayfish thieves caught red handed by officers
National
Veil soon to be lifted on new Millennium sequel novel
Gallery
People-watching: August 21st - 22nd
Cecilia Larsson Lantz/imagebank.sweden.se
Presented by Stockholm Academic Forum
International students welcomed to Stockholm
National
The Bridge: What does the third season have in store?
National
Lucky escape for Swedes after 'dead' bear launches attack
National
Syrian asylum seeker comic: 'We don't prefer Sweden any more'
National
Are anti-immigration nationalists really now Sweden's biggest party?
Lifestyle
Baby joy for Swedish crime queen and her wrestler boyfriend
National
Soldier accused of faking first Isis attack in Sweden
National
Fire alert as Sweden sizzles in summer heatwave
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th
National
Meet the Swede who is crazy for Norway’s mass killer
National
Swede's review of night in drunk tank goes viral
National
VIDEO: Swedish teen melts hearts with this incredible Idol audition
Society
What's a Swedish crayfish party?
National
UN: Sweden can't be left to shoulder migrant crisis alone
Gallery
Property of the week: Skogås, Huddinge
National
Men outstrip women for first time
Society
IN PICTURES: Wooden town resembles 'war zone' after huge fire
Gallery
People-watching: August 14th-16th
Sport
Swedish referee shuts viral Facebook page explaining his decisions
Business & Money
A studio in Stockholm or a castle in the countryside?
National
How did twelve skeletons end up beneath a Swedish castle?
Pharmacy to launch plasters for darker skin in anti racism drive
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
National
Millennium sequel author labelled 'grave robber'
National
Two metre long python stops traffic in Malmö
National
IN PICTURES: Shoppers pay tribute to Ikea stabbing victims
Technology
Danish 'monster' pulled out of Swedish waters
National
Bizarre baby baptism for hockey fan
Gallery
Property of the week: Löderup, Ystad
National
Sunshine brightens up Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: August 7th-9th
National
Shocking video sheds light on Swedish 'anti-gay discrimination'
Sponsored Article
Getting pregnant the Swedish way
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
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

3,215
jobs available
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:
psdmedia.se