The Ministry of Education signals the end of an English-improvement drive launched last year with a new report reassuring the world that China “has set strict standards on the use of both Chinese and English in service industry to better meet the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.” Via Eastday.com:
The report showed that China has regulated the Chinese to English translation for such service as washing rooms, restaurants and hotels to help visitors more conveniently find their destinations…The regulation also includes ways of translation for Chinese cuisine. And a coordination work team was also established to carry out language training programs for common people. [Full Text]
The article goes on to say 30 percent of Beijing residents had “learned” foreign languages by the end of 2005. No mention is made of the standards on which such a claim might be based.
Whether the campaign has been as successful as the ministry claims is a matter of debate. Evidence, such as this sign from a hotel in Beijing’s tony Central Business District (photographed last May), exists to the contrary.