Taipei, July 25 (CNA) The number of foreign nationals studying Chinese in Taiwan during their summer holidays under a government funded program grew to over 500 this year, up from 263 in 2010 and 444 last year, the Ministry of Education said Wednesday.
Some 508 students from 10 countries took part in language courses in Taiwan this year under a sponsorship program, which attracted around 1,500 visits by foreign students between 2008 and 2011.
The program began in 2006 and encourages young people from other countries to learn Chinese and travel around the island at the same time.
The ministry said it was hoping to promote Taiwan as the language center for the world's Chinese learners through the program.
Under the program, students from Asian countries are eligible to receive weekly allowances of US$57, while those from outside Asia receive US$90.
The ministry said students typically stayed in the country for six-eight weeks in summer and attended a three-hour course every weekday.
A student from Japan, which sent the largest number of participants this year, said his Chinese had improved significantly three weeks after he began the course in Taiwan. Although he had been learning the language in Japan for four years, he recalled, he couldn't even conduct basic conversations when he had arrived here newly.
Another student from the United States said she was more confident about her Chinese speaking ability now, and studying in Taiwan was a special life experience for her.
The language courses sponsored by the program are available in universities such as National Taiwan University, National Taiwan Normal University and Chinese Culture University.
(By Chen Chih-chung and Maia Huang)