According to recent data, about 50-thousand people are currently learning Chinese in Spain.
Zhang Li is the representative of the Office of Chinese Language Council International in Spain. She says though the Chinese courses started late in Spain, the development pace is impressive.
"The Chinese teaching started relatively late in Spain, compared to Britain, France, Germany, and even Italy. It began to develop in 2000. In 2008, the number of people learning Chinese was less than ten thousand, but it has increased five times compared with one decade ago."
Meanwhile, the number of people who have taken the HSK exam in Spain has reached about nine thousand. Zhang Li says people in European countries could benefit a lot from learning Chinese, including gaining a better understanding of China.
"I think Chinese language education in Spain has witnessed a steady growth. At the beginning, everyone thinks Chinese is a fashionable second-language, but now they regard the language in a rational way. On the one hand, since China's economy develops rapidly, they can have more opportunities if they can speak Chinese. On the other hand, I think they're attracted by the profound Chinese culture. Learning Chinese can help them better understand it."
Carla Flores is Spanish, and has a Chinese name Gao Erya. She studied translation at a prestigious Spanish university, Universidad de Granada, before going on to study Chinese at the Beijing Language and Culture University. She said she didn't realize at first that learning Chinese would have such a big influence in her life.
"I started learning Chinese in 2007 when I was in college. I didn't know why, but anyway, I chose it. At that time, I didn't know much about Chinese or Chinese culture. But later I'm very into it. To be honest, I didn't realize the huge impact of learning Chinese on my life."
Gao Erya is now working in the fields of China-related tourism and Chinese teaching.
Zhang Li says like Gao Erya, the Chinese language will positively influence more and more people in Spain in the near future.
She says that among the 70 universities in Spain, over 50 of them offer Chinese language classes. The language is also offered in some 100 primary and secondary schools across the country.