Chinese, Arabic on the rise
There's growing interest in studying Chinese and Arabic language and culture as more westerners turn their attention to those parts of the world for business or travel, according to evidence at the University of Adelaide.
Professional & Continuing Education (PCE) at the University has seen a surge in people of all ages and skill levels studying Chinese (Mandarin), with student numbers on the rise by 280% over the past five years.
"There are two main reasons that my students give for learning Chinese with PCE: business and travel," said Chinese teacher Jenny Jin.
"In general terms, the level of interaction between Australians and Chinese is growing in parallel to the growth in trade, business and educational links, and as China progresses to a more prominent place in world affairs. Australians are well aware of that growing relationship, and some are studying Chinese to improve employment prospects.
"Also, the number of people now living in Australia who have Chinese as their first language encourages other Australians to study Chinese... either for business reasons or simply to facilitate friendly association," she said.
The Chinese language program at PCE has been running for a decade. What started with a single class is now taught at every level, from beginner to the more advanced. Using an interactive mode of teaching, the focus is on the practical use of Chinese, developing reading, speaking, writing and listening skills.
Another area of study that's seen recent interest from the general public is Arabic. There are similar reasons for people wanting to study Arabic - for business and travel - but surprisingly, recent conflict has resulted in more people studying Arabic, according to teacher Hanan Dallah.
"I feel that many students are fascinated by the Arab world and its history. Indeed, recent conflicts in the area have increased their level of interest. Some have indicated that there is a sense of complex romanticism associated with the language and its culture," she said.
PCE offers a range of European and Asian language evening courses from beginners to the more advanced.
Courses are open to all adult learners. For more information call +61 8 8303 4777 or visit: www.adelaide.edu.au/pce
Story by David Ellis