3 years after I wrote about the first signs of the Israeli Chinese studies trend and there are signs that the trend is still going strong (see “The Chinese Language Studies Trend in Israel” and “Channel 2 story : Israelis studying Chinese” for more info). Every once in a while, Israeli news channels rediscover this phenomenon and report their discoveries. Not too long ago, Israeli Channel 2 news ran yet another 10 minute story on the Chinese studies trend.

Growing Chinese studies trend - Israel

Following is my very quick Hebrew to English translation of the story (video embedded here) :

(Intro) It’s the country with the largest population in the world, the fastest growing economy, and perhaps – who knows – it will someday replace the US as the strongest economy, it’s true that Chinese includes over 10 dialects, but it does matter – “can your kid already speak Chinese?”. Roti Shiloni reports…

If you only knew how many Israeli kids who the meaning of “Ni Hao”, you would probably feel out of touch. So “Ni Hao” means Hello in Chinese and the number of kids who understand what it means, but not only that, is growing fast.

Among other topics, this fifth grade classroom also has Chinese classes. […]

(A kid interviewed) Chinese is very good for business. Most of the things are manufactured there.  (Another kid) every plastic junk you turn around to look where it’s from it reads “Made in China”, if you run a company it could really help.

Even without reading the financial sections of the Israeli newspapers the young students in Tel Aviv’s Gretz elementary school understand that Chinese class is not just for fun, even for those who reply to the question “what will you be when you grow up” with something other than “a rich man”.

(A kid interviewed) I want to be an actor, not a business man, but I think it’s still important, because China is big and most chances are you’ll go and visit a few times. […]

More Israeli schools have began offering the option for teeth-breaking Chinese classes.

(Vice principle in Blich high-school) The demand is high. We sometimes have to deny students because we only have a limited number of classes. […]

Highschool kids come to classes in the afternoon (Fili – highschool mostly ends early in Israel) and usually for one main reason …

(A highschool kid) we’ll learn more words, expand our vocabulary, and then we can build a sentence which would help us sign the contract, or buy something. (reporter) so, it’s for business. (the kid) that’s what it’s meant for. […]

It’s been a few years already that we all understand that China is the next best thing. Not only when it comes to manufacturing but way beyond that. The Chinese economy is growing fast, making it the 3rd largest economy in the world, with experts expecting China to supersede the US as the world’s first in a few years. For those wanting to impress their Chinese counterparts it’s advisable that you know more than just a simple “Ni Hao”.

(Amir Gal Or) those who know Chinese enjoy better opening chances. It doesn’t mean that if you don’t know Chinese you’re out. Sometimes those who invested resources and time  in learning Chinese lost in the competition for understanding the actual business communications needed.

Last month even the Israeli Nickelodeon understood the potential and decided to introduce the Chinese teaching series “Kai Lan” in Hebrew.

What can those kids who dream of China with not Chinese classes in school do in the meanwhile? Ten years old Michal has already spent two years of private Chinese tutoring at her home. Every week her teacher – Anat – comes to teach her how to speak, and even more difficult – how to write.

(MIchal, the kid) it will help me communicate.

(Teacher Anat) just like taking ballet dancing lessons, it gives her essential skills to grow, open her horizons to the world. Chinese is not only the language, it’s also the culture. […]

(A kid interviewed) Chinese has 77000 characters, even the Chinese don’t know them all. So I’m expecting to know a few words. (another kid) I’m expecting to be able to engage in a simple conversation. […]

(a mother interviewed) to allow him more exposure to some unique experience.


Interesting. A few side notes notes :

  • Can Israelis teach Chinese? I didn’t think it was a good idea with English and it’s especially so with the tone-sensitive Chinese. To learn Chinese with an Israeli teacher is like taking driving lessons on a bicycle.
  • I’m glad it’s not all about business. It shouldn’t be about business, especially for kids. IMHO, those are in it for the business side will soon face disappointment.
  • That “Kai Lan” Chinese teaching Nickelodeon series seems cool. Check it out.


Can your kid already speak Chinese? 😛

Tags: China; Chinese Studies; education; education system; high school; Israel; kids; trend;

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