• Sweden's news in English
 
'More Swedish kids should learn Chinese'

'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a curriculum plan for teaching Mandarin, Björklund called Sweden's current focus on teaching European languages "outdated".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
Romanian beggar lands bumper lottery win
Photo: TT

Romanian beggar lands bumper lottery win

A Romanian man who slept under a bridge in a Swedish city and lived by begging recently landed a 210,000 kronor ($27,000) lottery win after buying a ticket on impulse, saying he now wants to build himself a house. READ  

Agency: Dream in vain of a white Christmas
There is little chance of snow in Stockholm this Christmas. File photo: TT

Agency: Dream in vain of a white Christmas

Sweden's weather agency SMHI has warned those living in southern parts of the country to stop dreaming of a white Christmas or risk disappointment. READ  

Shots fired at Stockholm migrant camp: report
File photo: TT

Shots fired at Stockholm migrant camp: report

Stockholm police have launched an investigation after reports that shots were fired at an EU migrant camp in the south of the city on Saturday. READ  

Löfven launches Swedish 'American Dream'
Photo: TT

Löfven launches Swedish 'American Dream'

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven used his Christmas speech on Saturday to launch his idea of the "Swedish Promise", an equivalent to the more familiar "American Dream". READ  

Hoho: Estelle records cute Christmas message
Princess Estelle pictured in her 2014 Christmas jumper. Photo: Kate Gabor/royalcourt.se

Hoho: Estelle records cute Christmas message

Video: Sweden's little Princess Estelle has got into the spirit of Christmas by recording a special message together with her parents. READ  

Swedes over-estimate English abilities: expert
BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg suffers a linguistic let-down at The White House in 2010. File photo: TT

Swedes over-estimate English abilities: expert

Swedes are generally confident in their own English abilities, a new survey has shown, although one expert has questioned whether this belief is misplaced. READ  

Sweden seeks ban on foreign booze advertising
File photo: Shutterstock.

Sweden seeks ban on foreign booze advertising

Two powerful Swedish lobby groups have turned to the European Commission to try and get a complete ban on alcohol advertising on television, after it emerged some channels were dodging the ban by being registered abroad. READ  

Minecraft creator beats Beyonce in mansion bid
Markus Persson created hit game Minecraft. Photo: TT

Minecraft creator beats Beyonce in mansion bid

UPDATED: Swedish billionaire Markus Persson is reported to have outbid the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce with his half billion kronor offer ($70 million) for a 2,000-square-metre Beverly Hills mansion. READ  

Accelerated for Ice Music
Ice Music taps Texas troubadour for new tunes
A scene from a 2014 Ice Music concert in Luleå. Photo: Graeme Richardson/Swedish Lapland

Ice Music taps Texas troubadour for new tunes

The world's "coolest concert" is set for a Texas twist in 2015 when Luleå's innovative Ice Music welcomes American musical talent from Austin, home of the South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival. READ  

Second baby on the way for Princess Madeleine
Princess Madeleine at the previous Nobel banquet. Photo: TT

Second baby on the way for Princess Madeleine

UPDATED: Sweden's Royal Court has announced that Princess Madeleine is pregnant with the second child of her financier husband Chris O'Neill. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: December 18th to 25th
National
'Unprecedented' Russian activity: Armed Forces
Society
Interview: The Local chats with Melinda Gates
Society
VIDEO: Stockholmers try out some Swedish tongue twisters
Society
Eight things to do when it gets dark in Umeå
Blog updates

19 December

-t or no -t? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! There are many things in the Swedish language that can give you a grey hair or two,..." READ »

 

19 December

Editor’s Blog, December 19th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello readers, Father Time has taken another week from us, but never fear – good old Father..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Inside Sweden's first 'light therapy' school
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching: December 17th
Estelle through the years
Gallery
Princess Estelle through the years
Society
Why are there so many 100-year-olds in one Swedish town?
Society
Is it time to better celebrate Sweden's diverse identity?
Gallery
Property of the week: Huddinge
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
National
CATCH UP: Russian plane in Baltic near-miss drama
Lifestyle
How my compass drew me to Sweden
National
The man whose memory you need to remember
Gallery
People-watching: December 13th - 14th
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
Politics
'Our party will stand alone': Stefan Löfven
Society
The Local chats to Ruben Östlund, director of Golden Globe nominated Force Majeure
Lifestyle
Ten things to know before a Swedish party
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: December 12th to 19th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The 2014 Nobel Banquet
National
The Local's guide to the Nobel Prizes 2014
Education
Introducing... Education in Stockholm
Society
The Swedish Christmas market with a twist
Lifestyle
Why do so many Swedes have tattoos?
Society
Get 20% off Swedish Christmas decorations
National
Dewani family: We only heard half the story
Business & Money
Business in Stockholm: 'efficiency is money'
Gallery
Property of the week: Östermalm
National
Meet the Swedes hosting festive feasts for 'lonely' guests
Gallery
TIMELINE: Swedish honeymoon killing murder trial
Gallery
People-watching: December 7th
Gallery
IN PICTURES: What's it like to fly planes in Sweden?
National
Submarine hunters 'robbed' of reward cash
National
The Local's Countdown to Christmas
National
'Dangerous' USB charger recalled in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's King and Queen wrap up France tour
National
Analysis: Should Snowden get asylum in Sweden?
National
Swedish schoolboy in female saint role row
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's political crisis unfolds
Gallery
People-watching: December 3rd
National
What happened to Sweden's ice bucket cash?
Lifestyle
Top Swedish songs of the month
Sponsored Article
SIS: the thinking behind globalised learning
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
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

820
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
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options