Representing the Industrial Development Bureau, the author was part of a mission that took part in the 2008 Frankfurt Book Fair to promote Chinese e-learning that was organized by the GIO and implemented by the Taipei Book Fair Foundation. The Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s biggest book fair and has been called the book world’s Mecca. It attracts 160,000 people from the publishing industry from 110 countries and regions and around 300,000 visitors and is one of the main exhibitions for Chinese language companies looking for international business opportunities. Next year the theme of the fair is “China”. This year the “Taiwan e-learning and publishing area” had a “Tea, Chinese cultural artifact” theme. Chinese e-learning product trial use DVDs were available and Chinese language company products were on display, giving exhibition visitors an opportunity to become familiar with Taiwan’s fine Chinese language products and Chinese culture. There were two main work areas this year were: The first involved displaying Chinese language products, showing teaching applications and promoting e-learning trail-use DVDs on the five large computer screens in the Taiwan Hall, to assist Taiwan distributors Bright Ideas Design Co.,Idealist Culture Tech. Group, Royal Epen International Corp e筆通 and L Labs Inc etc and Hebron,IQ Technology and Far East Book Co, which participated in the Frankfurt Book Fair, raising product profile and supporting international sales promotion and expansion of channels. The second was engaging in exchange with international publishers and agencies, looking for international business opportunities and developing Chinese teaching material requirements and channels.
Chinese fever is a recent phenomenon. Its rapid development over a short time means that the opportunity to prepare to promote Chinese teaching has been limited. At present, Chinese teaching in Europe is transforming from the “scale expansion” stage to “improving teaching quality” stage. Many Chinese teaching experts in Europe think that the emphasis should be on improving “teacher training”, “teaching material writing” and “teaching methods” and this is reflected in the characteristics of Chinese teaching in Europe at present.
1.Studying history: the subject has been long established and has a strong academic flavor.
2.Teaching methods: Most students start from Pinyin, then begin to learn characters, mostly simplified. The reading and translation requirements of students who major in Chinese are high.
3.Students:More time is spent studying than in the US and they often have substantial experience of learning a foreign language.
4.Teachers:In recent years the tendency has been for each educational institution to choose its own teachers because the teaching methods of government appointed teachers are rigid.
After on-the-spot observation of several phenomena during this visit this time my suggestions for the international Chinese market are as follows:
I.When promoting Chinese e-learning trial use DVDs I found that the response of international publishing companies and distributors to the practical usefulness of Taiwan’s fine Chinese teaching materials was very good and they were left with a deep impression. This shows that Taiwan’s fine Chinese products, software and hardware have an advantage. The main resistance in promotion work is the fact that international publishing companies and agencies are not familiar with Taiwan’s fine Chinese works and, in Europe, most language publishers are not too familiar with Taiwan’s Chinese companies. Thus, companies need to be more confident when building a brand and carrying out marketing. A local Chinese e-learning center can be established and a local Chinese learning brand created. (In Germany only 4 out of 14 provinces do not have elementary and middle school Chinese course”.
II. I found that the strategy used by European publishers involves joining together with same industry or other industry companies which have expertise to achieve a learning product multi-dimensional value added effect, allowing the customer who also has learning requirements to learn without time and space restrictions. In European publishers’ catalogues I found that learning using mobile electronics devices (iPod, e-book, e-learning self study, etc) was natural and offered diverse choice. Transportation and postal costs in Europe are expensive so a high proportion of learners self-study at home or learn through the Internet, making e-learning more common and more mature than in Taiwan. This point can be exploited by Taiwan.If we can take advantage of the China theme of next year’s Frankfurt Book Fair and establish a future classroom concept area featuring Taiwan’s new application technology, an electronic white board for Taiwan’s e-learning companies, multi-media equipment, an electronic podium and related hardware and software solutions, it is certain that a lot of attention from the international media and business will be received To sum up, the Chinese market is a new market. If fine products containing Taiwan’s culture are to grab international attention a Chinese e-learning Cooperation Development Center needs to be established, suitable distance learning methods developed and ‘future classroom” integrated teaching material competitions held, making a contribution to the development of a Made in Taiwan knowledge economy.