More students learn Chinese language in Israeli high schools

Source: Xinhua

JERUSALEM, June 4 (Xinhua) -- More than 3,000 Israeli high school students studied the Chinese language during the current school year ending on June 20, with 70 of them taking the matriculation exam on Tuesday, data released by the country's Ministry of Education showed.

Israeli schools began teaching the Chinese language in 2011, when 60 high school students studied Chinese that year with four 12th grade students taking the first matriculation exam in this subject.

Since then, the number of Chinese language students in Israel has gradually increased with about 800 students in 2013, 1,000 in 2014 and more than 3,000 this year, a jump of more than 50 times in eight years.

So far, there are 35 teachers in the Israeli education system who teach the Chinese language in about 100 schools throughout the country.

Chinese studies in Israel include the standard Mandarin, as well as Chinese culture, history, tradition and customs.

Israeli Ministry of Education has cited three main reasons for the importance of learning the Chinese language.

"First, it is the most spoken language in the world. Second, China is an economic, political and military power," it said.

"Third, studying Chinese opens up a new world of thinking and culture different from the Western one that is familiar to the Israeli students," the ministry added.

Shmuel Abuav, the ministry's director general, said that "learning the Chinese language gives the graduates a required skill that increases their chances of integrating into the world of academia and opens a door to the global business world."

"China's status as an economic and political power has raised the importance of Chinese as the most widely spoken foreign language in the world," added Tamar Cohen-Kehat, the ministry's national instructor for the Chinese language.