Recently, the UK government confirmed their plans to increase the number of students studying Mandarin to 400,000 by 2020, and double the numbers from 2017. The goal has been set back in 2016 when China and the UK agreed on a joint “Action Plan” to jointly improve the quality of education, professional educational exchanges, language teaching and increase quality standards. In the meantime, 29 Confucius Institutes and 148 Confucius Classrooms have been established in the UK, with 160,000 registered students, according to the statistics from the Chinese Embassy in London.
However, with the increased Chinese tourist visits to Europe, increased trade and business activities with China, more and more businesses in Europe are struggling to recruit enough Mandarin speakers. Last week, China Plus reported that a record number of Chinese fans are expected to attend the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2018, annual traditional military performance being held in August. Organisers are afraid that they won’t be able to meet the demands of huge number of guests from China because of the lack of Mandarin speaking guides and service providers, according to the news sources.
And this isn’t an isolated case. Eastern Europe, never being so popular amongst Chinese tourists as it is currently, is also struggling with Mandarin speaking local guides, and other service providers that are able to communicate in Chinese language. Unlike France and Italy, that are somewhat more prepared for Chinese tourists, East and Southeast Europe yet to need to adapt to increased popularity coming from China.
In Zagreb, Confucius Institute has been opened in 2012, and has educated more than 3,500 students in Croatia, teaching them basics of Chinese language, history and culture. Currently, 32 Chinese teachers from Confucius Institute that teach Mandarin in 8 Croatian cities. Interest in Chinese learning is increasing amongst Croats, especially amongst professionals that work in tourism sector. China equally continues to support Mandarin learning, additionally increasing the number of scholarships for foreign students coming from B&R countries.