The Spanish language finds its place in China’s schools

Just when the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language is about to open its first centre in Shanghai, Spanish is being added to the school curriculum as a second language.

The Spanish language has made its way into China, where it is planning to stay and grow. Our language is very popular in the Asian country, where the number of students has been growing steadily (from 200 three decades ago to more than 40,000 in 2018) and there are Government policies promoting it.

Now, Spanish is being added to the school curriculum as a second language, along with English, Russian and Japanese. It is a step in the solidification of our language as the second foreign language in the country, only after English. Spanish stands today as the second most spoken language in the world.

The inclusion of the Spanish language in the Chinese secondary school curriculum, on the grounds of its preeminent role in cultural, social and economic affairs, its bright prospects and the growing interest of Chinese firms in Spanish-speaking countries (where they channel 30% of investment), means that more than 80 million Chinese teenagers could choose to learn it as a foreign language in school.

This could lead to a high rise in the number of Spanish speakers in China, which in turn may favour bilateral relations and trade. Spanish universities and corporations are already working with Chinese institutions to draft several cooperation agreements.

The Royal Academy of the Spanish Language in Shanghai

Coming to Beijing in 2006, Instituto Cervantes paved the way to growth in China. As a global leader in the teaching of Spanish as a foreign language, with over 4000 students a year in the country, it has played a key role in the promotion of Spanish language and culture.

Its efforts were strengthened by the establishment of RAE-SISU Research Centre in Shanghai, the joint research centre of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (RAE) and the Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) that opened its doors on 18 September.

The newly established research centre will be aimed at promoting the study of the Spanish language, Spanish literature and culture, and the learning of Spanish as a foreign language in school and university.

To make cooperation with China easier, RAE introduced a digital platform of language services, Enclave RAE, targeted at companies, public administrations and individuals, in particular language professionals and teachers, who can use the website’s resources to design learning units in response to their students’ needs.