Chinese popular subject at university

07 March 2012

Interest in China has increased markedly in Sweden over recent years and has also been noticed at the Centre for Languages and Literature(SOL) at Lund University.

To be admitted to the beginner’s courses in Chinese requires top grades and it is the third most popular foreign language after English and French.

“China has become much higher profile in Sweden over recent years. For example, Chinese companies have cropped up as prospective buyers in both the Volvo and Saab affairs, and this is certain to have contributed to the increased interest in Chinese among young people”, says Peter Sivam, who is assistant director of studies for Chinese at SOL. He thinks Chinese will be the largest foreign language at Lund University within 15 years, if nothing changes unexpectedly in China.

There are no special admission requirements to study Chinese at SOL. It is possible to study full-time on campus or part-time online and there are courses up to PhD level. The courses use the same material and students who start studying online can move on to the higher level courses on campus.
“Many of our students have already been to China when they start their studies with us. Most of them intend to use the language in their future careers and it is common to combine language studies with studies in another subject”, explains Peter Sivam.

In addition to the courses in the language and history of China, SOL also has a well-developed collaboration with other faculties at the University. The School of Economics and Management and LTH have study programmes with a special focus on China and their students learn Chinese in Lund before going to study in China.
A large donation from Birgit Rausing has enabled many of SOL’s own students to continue their language studies abroad:
“Every year the Birgit Rausing Language Programme awards around 10 scholarships to language students at Lund University to study in China. Thanks to her exchange programme, we are also able to host a visiting lecturer from China. That is of invaluable help to our students in their pronunciation practice”, says Peter Sivam.

Lund University got its first senior lecturer in Chinese back in 1972 and for many years it was regarded as a small, strange language for specialist linguists. Today it has been recognised in earnest as the world’s biggest language, spoken by over 1.3 billion people, and interest in Chinese is also growing in Sweden.
“It is already possible to learn Chinese at many upper secondary schools in Sweden and the language is also growing in lower secondary school”, says Peter Sivam. He predicts a bright future for Chinese in Sweden and hopes that the large need for qualified teachers will lead to the language becoming an option on the secondary teacher training programme at Lund University.
- Johan Lindskoug