Popular Chinese Internet memes and current Chinese terms like “Let’s go, mantis shrimp!”, “WeChat red packet”, and “cashless payment” are being added to Chinese language textbooks across India, as Indian teachers try to update learning materials to meet the mounting enthusiasm for learning Chinese, xinhuanet.com reported on Dec. 21, 2018.
Statistics from the Chinese Embassy in India show that Chinese language is currently taught in 20 Indian universities, eight of which offer Chinese as a major. Around 2,000 Indian students are majoring in Chinese in India, while the number of Chinese language learners across the whole country has reached nearly 20,000 people.
“From the Confucius Institute’s undergraduate courses and weekend classes for Chinese language lovers to Chinese classes in commercial training schools, people are showing greater passion for learning the Chinese language,” said an Indian teacher, Mei Li (Chinese name), who teaches Chinese in the Confucius Institute at the University of Mumbai.
“In the past, we didn’t have enough students, but now our challenge is that the textbooks are not fresh enough, so I decided to compile a new textbook on Chinese language,” said Mei Li, who disclosed that she had incorporated many hot topics on China’s social development and popular Internet culture in the book.
Mei Li is not the only person in India who has compiled a Chinese textbook to help people better learn Chinese and understand China. A young man, Chinese name Tang Hanming, has also created learning materials in Hindi and Indian dialects to enable Chinese language lovers who don’t understand English to learn Chinese more conveniently.
Tang was taught Chinese in China, and now works in a Chinese-funded enterprise in Mumbai. In his spare time, he promotes Chinese language learning in the local area and runs a local Chinese language training school.
“In India, people usually use the textbooks compiled by the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban), which are written in both Chinese and English. However, some learners don’t understand English, so we have to teach them in Hindi or even some local dialects,” explained Tang.
Chinese is one of the working languages of the United Nations (UN) and is one of the most spoken languages in the world, explained a professor from the Center of Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He said that the rise of “Chinese fever” in India is the natural result of China’s growing economic and political influence around the world, and especially one of the consequences of the continually deepening people-to-people exchanges between China and India in recent years.