Posted by: mel | November 28, 2009

Language strengthens bilateral Indonesia-China ties

Jakarta Post | National | 28 November 2009

Indonesians studying to speak and write Chinese may get a much-needed boost as the National Education Ministry plans to invite native speakers from China to teach at schools and universities across the country.

Sari Safani, 24, a lecturer at the Hamka Muhammadiyah University in East Jakarta, said Friday that native speakers motivated students to perform better in classes.

“Students picked up the language more easily because the volunteer and I worked together in delivering the structure behind the language,” she told The Jakarta Post in a telephone interview, referring to her work with a Chinese volunteer in 2007.

The National Education Ministry has invited 96 volunteers from China to serve as instructors for non-native Mandarin local teachers and students from 90 schools and universities in 17 provinces across the country.

The director general for higher education at the ministry, Fasli Jalal, said Thursday the volunteers would arrive by October next year.

Fasli said the volunteers would replace 76 Mandarin language teachers in 72 schools in 14 provinces across the country.

“The Chinese government will provide another 20 volunteers for universities,” he said.

He was speaking during a discussion between the ministry and the executive body of the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), which was affiliated with the Chinese Education Ministry.

Fasli said that, in 2006, the government invited 40 volunteers to teach students in 38 schools in 10 provinces.

“The number had risen from only 20 volunteers teaching in nine provinces in 2004,” he said.

The relatively new public interest in learning Chinese emerged in the reform era. Prior to this, Soeharto’s New Order regime had systematically suppressed the manifestation of Chinese cultural identity following the alleged attempted communist coup allegedly backed by China in 1965.

Jakarta decided to break relations with Beijing in 1967 leading to poor bilateral relations between both countries for decades. Both countries resumed relations in 1990.

Sari said current business relations between both countries were flourishing, providing professional opportunities for people who could speak and write Chinese fluently.

“Such opportunities are even larger for people mastering at least three languages: Indonesian, English and Mandarin,” she said.

Sari said university students adapted more easily to speaking and writing Mandarin than high school students as university students “were mature enough to handle the difficult subject.”

She added her students often found if difficult to write Chinese because of the thousands of different characters that needed to be memorized. (nia)

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