Maris Abel, who is now 16 years old, and to the North of Münster, a Waldorf school, went from 1. up to 3. Class at a Chinese elementary school in Beijing. She was there as the daughter of a members of the German Embassy and they said that three years of Chinese school for you at the time, a good time.

prefer Maris would learn to Abel, therefore, still Chinese. However, within a radius of Westerkappeln, where she lives now, has no school, the language in the offer. And, although the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the absolute Champion among the German Federal States for Chinese-lessons: around 2000 students learning Chinese – a total of little more than 5000 young people in the whole of Germany.

Still, Maris was not Abel to find it. Chinese is classified in the German education system as a “small language”, explained the teacher. The “big languages” are English and French.

Exactly this is what Andrea Frenzel, a researcher at MERICS, Institute for China studies in Berlin, disturbs: “How can you call the majority of people in the world spoken language is a small language?”, asks Frenzel. She has worked in a now, the present study systematically with the Chinese teaching in German schools. The result: Since 2012, the number of students, the Chinese choose as a school subject is stagnant, for nationwide 5000 students.

the number grew in the years prior to that, constantly, even from a Chinese Boom in German schools, there was talk in the meantime. But it was quickly over again: “China’s path is considered by many as still quite far,” says Frenzel.

Chinese is not as difficult as many people think

In France, however, the number of Chinese students soared in the past few years, to 40,000 up – almost eight times as much as in Germany. The professional Association of Chinese power in the German education policy: “The Problem is primarily in the Federal System of Germany, where each Federal state of their own frameworks and training structures need to develop,” says Andreas Guder, Chairman of the Association. He even meet in the competent country authorities rarely people who are willing, on the school subject Chinese involved, instead there is “in many Federal States, a great fear of contact on the administrative side,” says Guder, who teaches at the University of Göttingen Sinology.

there are at the Federal level, Attempts to make German schools more keen on China. The Federal foreign office, Federal Ministry of education and the conference of Ministers of education (KMK), called in may of this year at a joint conference to more China-Elan. “We don’t have to be all the China experts. But Germany would do well to learn China and to approach this vast country,” said Thuringia’s Minister of education and KMK President Helmut Holter of the conference.

However, the sinologist Ole Döring, Freie Universität Berlin, holds the pure announcement of policy. “The political support is limited in the area of education are still largely based on short-term Benefits for the economy and research. There can be difficult to produce a sustainable infrastructure for Chinese schools,” says Döring.

“China’s Public image is its meaning, not just”

the politicians But are really just debt? Researcher Frenzel refers to an old prejudice, namely, that Chinese is “to learn a particularly hard time”. Your counter-argument: “That’s not true!” Finally, their studies would also show that Chinese teaching in Germany, where it takes place, is very successful. Many Chinese students, Frenzel, would reach the level of B2, one level below what you usually expected of a graduates in the field of Sinology. Döring of the FU Berlin is not surprised: “It is a myth that Chinese is particularly hard to learn. It’s like Latin, French and English is a question of the type of Learning and of teaching competence.”

the Latter will be strengthened in Germany only recently, by three studies in Göttingen, Tübingen and Bochum, which offer a Chinese training course for future teachers. 30 new Chinese teachers to be trained per year. That’s enough, if as in the past, only a few thousand students Chinese want to choose.

But: “If we speak almost no Chinese, we leave the Interpretation, understanding and interpretation of all Chinese to the Chinese,” says Döring. Among the students, the aversion is even greater than among students: Only 500 new Chinese students in Germany is quite per year.

The actual causes for the low China-interest of the young German. “The image of China itself does not contribute to the Motivation of teachers and students to make the effort,” he says Döring. There is a General ignorance to the fear of the country. Expert Guder puts it: “The image of China in the German Public of its importance for the world economy of the 21st century. Century.”