University gears up for 'Silk Road' initiatives

Updated: 2015-03-16 07:34

By Luo Wangshu(China Daily USA)

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Beijing Foreign Studies University started programs in less commonly taught languages in the spring semester to cater for the country's Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives.

The university's School of Asian and African Studies introduced courses in Mongolian, Tamil, Bengalese and Pilipino.

"The programs at BFSU will provide quality professionals who cannot only speak the languages but also understand the cultures, accelerating in-depth communication between China and these countries," said Jia Wenjian, the university's vice-president.

Sun Xiaomeng, dean of the School of Asian and African Studies, said the new programs will prepare language students for the increasing economic communication between China and countries along the "One Belt and One Road" initiatives.

"Since the new programs started, BFSU now covers all languages in ASEAN countries. It's been thoroughly planned for us to offer these language programs," Sun said.

Students can sign up for the programs out of interest as well as for practical reasons.

"For instance, it is a plus for students studying a regional economy if they have knowledge of the language," she said, adding that the State's plan will need more qualified language graduates, and the programs enable students to fulfill national needs.

"It provides an opportunity for Chinese youth to learn about the Mongolian language and culture. ... Countries' communication is not only connected by roads, but also connected by people," said Tuvshintugs Battsetseg, minister counselor of the Mongolian embassy in Beijing.

"Mongolia has more than 60 schools, from primary schools to universities, offering Chinese language programs and more than 6,000 students studying in China," she said.

In China, BFSU is the second university after Peking University to offer Mongolian as a foreign language program.

"Our graduates are extremely popular. If they are willing to go to ministries, it's an easy call. Companies are fighting over our graduates," said Wang Hao, director of the Center for Mongolian Studies at PKU.

The new programs at BFSU - 29 in Mongolian, 30 in Tamil, 22 in Bengalese, 24 in Pilipino - are nondegree programs.

The university will gradually introduce another 11 less commonly taught languages, including Georgian, Armenian and Moldovan.

Sun said the university is working toward offering degree programs in Mongolian and Pilipino.

"Faculty shortage is a major challenge, "she said.

(China Daily USA 03/16/2015 page7)