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6.Language Environment

      Through efforts that promote the learning of foreign languages, and proper use of Putonghua and standard Chinese characters, the city will work hard to provide first-class language services to athletes, the Olympic organizations, visitors and tourists.

      1. Foreign Language Learning and Popularization

      The Organizing Committee of the “Beijing Speaks to the World” Program will develop and implement the “Overall Plan for Citizens Speaking Foreign Languages (2003-2008)” before the end of 2002. The objective is to make most citizens capable of speaking one hundred sentences for everyday use in at least one foreign language by the end of 2007. Employees working in “window” industries, particularly those that may serve foreigners, shall be more vigorously trained in foreign languages. Over a period time, rules shall be developed that will require employees to have a proficiency certificate before they can take up a job in certain industries or professions. Importance shall be attached to foreign language education in all schools, and measures shall be taken to improve the foreign language proficiency of all students. Programs that teach the relatively rare foreign languages should also be organized and given due emphasis.

      The promotion and popularization of foreign languages will be strengthened. Newspapers, magazines, radio stations, TV stations and websites are all to increase foreign language programs or columns. The English-language paper Beijing Today, now a weekly publication, shall be published three times a week, starting from 2003, and it shall be made into a daily newspaper in 2005. The bilingual and multi-lingual programming capabilities at Beijing Radio and TV stations will be augmented. Beijing Telecom will set up a telephone translation number to serve foreign language learners and people relying on foreign languages for most of their communications.

      2. The Use and Promotion of Putonghua and Standard Chinese Characters

      The use of Pudonghua shall be promoted among citizens and the Chinese language used by the mass media shall be standardized. Language correction hotlines shall be set up at newspapers, radio and TV stations as well as websites. Supervision by the public shall be leveraged to improve the language level of the members of the general public.

      The hosting of the Olympics, which will attract the world’s attention to China in general and to Beijing in particular, shall also be used as an opportunity to teach and promote the Chinese language to the world, and to demonstrate that Chinese is in fact a language used worldwide. Efforts will be made to encourage and assist foreigners in learning the Chinese language. International contests on the topic “Beijing and I” will be held for foreigners to demonstrate their Chinese proficiency in reading, speech-making and debating. Contests for foreigners singing Chinese songs and telling stories in Chinese will continue to be organized in such media outlets as the Beijing TV Station. Promotional programs targeting foreign visitors shall be developed and conducted to facilitate their learning of the Chinese language. Starting from 2005, a section on “Learning the Chinese Language” can be added to the publicity materials the Olympic organizing committee sends overseas.

      3. Guiding Signs

      Experts will be organized to conduct comprehensive research and systematic analysis in order to develop a set of standardized tourist guide systems for Beijing. The municipal Tourism Bureau shall examine the existing tourist guides, tourist maps, signs, pamphlets and their locations at various streets, key tourist sites and key tourist service facilities. The standardization of tourist information services shall be achieved by the end of 2005. Touch-screen e-guide facilities shall be made available at public locations frequented by tourists, and mobile information tellers shall be made available during the Olympic Games to provide tourist information and guide services. Major roads, stations and stops, tourist sites and key cultural sites in Beijing shall have bilingual directional signs in both Chinese and English, and multi-lingual signs shall be available in certain special premises and stadiums. Before 2006, a system to examine foreign language signs shall be developed under leadership of the “Beijing Speaks to the World” Program Organizing Committee. Starting from 2002, simplified icons shall be adopted and promoted with reference to international norms in order to gradually change the current situation in which guiding signs now are in words only and without any types of indicators. Bilingual electronic stop reporting systems shall be promoted at appropriate times among the city’s bus and metro systems. Braille and sign language services shall be given due emphasis.

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