NANJING, June 6 (Xinhua) -- With China and the rest of the world more closely intertwined every day, Mandarin speakers are suddenly in high demand worldwide.
"We welcome Mandarin Chinese teachers and Chinese engineers to teach in Belarus," said Natallia Baranava, president of Minsk State Linguistic University.
"We hope to cooperate with Chinese universities in curriculum planning and teacher training," she said during the two-day International Conference on Language which ended Friday in east China's Suzhou City.
The conference focused on language education and attracted some 400 academics and cultural officials from more than 100 countries.
Since 2004, China has established 445 Confucius Institutes and 665Confucius Classrooms in 122 countries and regions to promote the Chinese language and culture around the world. Confucius Institutes, named after the ancient philosopher, are non-profit public institutions to help foreigners better understand China through language and cultural exchange in universities overseas.
Currently, there are more than 100 million foreign speakers and learners of Mandarin worldwide with 350,000 foreigners studying Chinese language in 746 Chinese universities last year.
The popularity of Mandarin is inevitable, said Liu Jun from Georgia State University in the United States.
"Other countries need the Chinese language to avoid misunderstanding and do business here," said Liu.
To master another language means more opportunities and better development of learners' intelligence, said Li Yuming, a professor at Beijing Language and Culture University.
Despite the increase in Mandarin students, the language is still regarded as difficult and teaching methods need improvement, according to researchers at the conference.
To enhance teaching, foreign learners should understand the cultural connotations of Chinese characters and expressions, Lui suggested.
More effort is needed to train learners' communication ability instead of stressing grammar and expressions too much, said Liu.