• Sweden's news in English
 

'More Swedish kids should learn Chinese'

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a curriculum plan for teaching Mandarin, Björklund called Sweden's current focus on teaching European languages "outdated".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
Ikea turns furniture into wireless phone chargers
Ikea's design centre in Ålmhult. Photo: TT

Ikea turns furniture into wireless phone chargers

Swedish furniture giant Ikea has become the first global budget retailer to launch a set of desks, tables and lamps that will wirelessly charge phones and other devices. READ  

Drones tested by police across Sweden
A drone in use in Oslo. Photo: TT

Drones tested by police across Sweden

Police in Sweden have purchased several unmanned aircraft to test how authorities might use them as part of their work in future. READ  

My Swedish Career
'Swedes have a different kind of creativity'
Joshua Ng and Julieta Talavera in Malmö. Photo: Private

'Swedes have a different kind of creativity'

A space where global meets local, where people come together to make both the world and their own neighbourhood a better place – such was the dream of two international students living in Sweden two years ago. Here, they tell The Local how they are on their way to making it happen. READ  

Sweden calls Nemtsov killing 'an execution'
The body of Boris Nemtsov on a bridge near the Kremlin. Photo: Pavel Golovkin/AP

Sweden calls Nemtsov killing 'an execution'

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström has described the killing of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov of further evidence of "Putin's reign of terror with regards to security, human rights and democracy". READ  

Malmö school 'too dangerous' for students
Photo: TT

Malmö school 'too dangerous' for students

A secondary school in Malmö has been closed after the teachers' union declared that it is too dangerous a place for students and teachers to attend due to widespread violence and criminality. READ  

Measles outbreak spreads to Sweden
MMR vaccine. File photo: Eric Risberg/AP

Measles outbreak spreads to Sweden

Sweden has recorded its first case of measles linked to the recent massive outbreak across Europe with healthcare services responding with calls for extra vigilance. READ  

Sweden's Ericsson sues Apple in patent spat
Photo: TT

Sweden's Ericsson sues Apple in patent spat

Swedish telecoms group Ericsson announced Friday a lawsuit against US tech giant Apple claiming that its technology was used in iPhones and other wireless devices despite a lapsed licencing agreement. READ  

IN PICTURES: Swedes in 'ring of peace' protest
Photo: TT

IN PICTURES: Swedes in 'ring of peace' protest

Up to a 1000 Swedes turned out to form a human shield around Stockholm's synagogue on Friday as a protest against extremism. Here are some images from the event. READ  

Swedes in 'ring of peace' synagogue protest
Photo: TT

Swedes in 'ring of peace' synagogue protest

A human shield of up to a 1000 Swedes staged a protest against extremism outside the Stockholm synagogue Friday in response to the Copenhagen shootings earlier this month in which two people died. READ  

Swedes to form 'ring of peace' at synagogue
A ring of peace around a synagogue in Oslo. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/NTB scanpix/TT

Swedes to form 'ring of peace' at synagogue

UPDATED: Hundreds of young Swedes were set to form a 'ring of peace' around a synagogue in Stockholm on Friday afternoon, in a show of solidarity two weeks after Jews were among those targeted in a pair of deadly shootings in Copenhagen. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Super cute sloth twins charm visitors to Swedish zoo
Sponsored Article
Ten tips for succeeding as a start-up in Sweden
Lifestyle
Meet Sweden's first woman chef to win a Michelin star
Business & Money
Ten Swedish start-ups you haven't heard of (yet)
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: February 26th - March 5th
Blog updates

27 February

Editor’s blog, February 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Our most read story this week got picked up by global media from Al Jazeera to..." READ »

 

18 February

The mysterious -s, part 2 (The Swedish Teacher) »

"-s expressing “each other” (reciprocal verbs) You have most likely used this form of the verbs..." READ »

 
 
 
Accelerated for Ice Music
What is Bob Dylan's guitarist doing in northern Sweden?
Features
How well do you know Sweden's top celebrity couples?
Business & Money
Are company boards 'too white' in Sweden?
Gallery
People-watching: February 25th
Technology
Sweden is dubbed second most 'digital' nation in European Union
National
Why more Swedes want a sex change
National
The return of Sweden's Ace of Base
National
Why has Julian Assange's case been going on for so long?
National
'21' or 'IS'? Swedish police confuse birthday with Islamist extremism
National
Spring has sprung in Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Ängelholm
National
How to never miss your favourite weekly features on The Local
National
Is Sweden home to the world's oldest living cat?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The life and career of Fredrik Reinfeldt
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Princess Estelle through the years
National
Why are Swedish Jews worried?
Sponsored Article
Tourist or lifer: what sort of expat are you?
Gallery
People-watching: February 19th-22nd
National
'Racist' bird names banned in Sweden
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden this week
National
Nobel prize to go under hammer
National
Swede named 'Fanny' banned from getting UK loyalty card
National
Spotlight on the Swedes that could be funding Islamists
Sponsored Article
Are you an American expat? How to face FATCA
Gallery
People-watching: February 18th
National
Is a chocolate crime wave sweeping across Sweden?
National
What we know about the Copenhagen shootings suspect
National
Danish Ambassador: 'We'll live our lives the way we always have'
National
What does this '90s pop act have to do with a former minister?
Lifestyle
How to embrace Sweden's creamy semla bun tradition
National
Did this Swedish hotel really refuse a gay couple?
National
Why are so many escalators down on Stockholm's Metro?
Gallery
Property of the week: Kungsbacka
National
Can Zlatan's tattoo stunt help end world hunger?
Gallery
People-watching: February 14th
Lars Vilks
National
Who exactly is controversial Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks?
Lifestyle
VIDEO: How to tackle Sweden's bizarre mating rituals
Sponsored Article
'Immigration is critical' for Stockholm’s future
Lifestyle
How to make traditional Swedish blackberry pie
National
What the weak krona means for expats and visitors to Sweden
National
What's in a Swedish meatball?
National
Spotlight on 32 Swedish Isis fighters killed in Syria and Iraq
Sponsored Article
Stockholm job fair helps immigrant entrepreneurs
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

976
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