18 Apr 2012

Mandarin learning taking off in Pacific

5:48 pm on 18 April 2012

The region's Confucius Institute says Mandarin learning is taking off in the Pacific and people are being turned away from courses.

China's cultural and language teaching agency set up at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji at the end of last year.

About 130 students have so far enrolled in classes at the USP's Suva campus and the university is looking at offering a credit-level course next year.

The Institute's local director Joan Yee says China is looking at providing money for a bigger building and two more teachers so the Institute can offer courses in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and other countries in the region.

"There is a real need for people to be able to speak the language and to be able to communicate with the Chinese who are here and maybe they are trying to do trade with them. People do realise that China is becoming a very important global partner."

Joan Yee says students who have enrolled so far work in sectors like tourism, banking, business and government.