Ni Hao (Hello) … Zai jian (Goodbye) …
Don’t be surprised if you hear more of these words in Spanish classrooms.
Suffering from a weak economy in the past few years, Spain is looking to China for business and employment opportunities, and that’s why many locals are interested in learning Chinese.
About 40 Spanish universities, including top schools like University of Barcelona, are offering Chinese language classes, according to Taiwan broadcaster CTi. Instead of English or French, an increasing number of students are opting to learn Chinese. More than 100 elementary and middle schools also offer similar courses. The number of Chinese language students in the country has reached 30,000, and counting.
In a CTi television show, a Spaniard named Mark, who runs offices in Spain and China to promote Spanish soccer teams, said he has noticed more of his friends and relatives are taking up Chinese language lessons.
Tourism is another area where the ability to speak Chinese is a definite advantage. About 50 million foreign tourists visit Spain each year, and by 2020, the number of Chinese visitors is tipped to exceed one million, CTi notes.
More students mean greater demand for teachers. For Spanish-speaking Taiwanese teachers, a more relaxed lifestyle and better pay are the biggest attractions.
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