People talk a lot about China. It seems as though its economy has been steadily gaining steam longer than Justin Bieber has been alive. But here’s something else that is increasing significantly in China: widespread interest in the French language and culture.
“Chinese students’ interest in France is growing dramatically,” Anthony Chaumuzeau, cultural counselor of the French embassy in China, told Beijing Today last year. “They go there to study not only history and language but also for an understanding of what’s happening economically and politically.” Chaumuzeau estimated that the number of Chinese students in France would likely exceed 50,000 by 2015.
Chinese students aren’t just learning French. The number who are coming to the United States and gaining fluency in English is also skyrocketing. (Nearly 160,000 Chinese students enrolled in U.S. colleges in 2010, an all-time high, up 23% from the year before.)