U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige Signs Bilateral Agreement with China to Jointly Build E-Language Project

October 22, 2002

“Today’s MOU represents a partnership that will build cultural awareness and increase binational communications through the study of language — by teaching Chinese to American students and English to Chinese students,” Paige said. “The E-Language Project recognizes the importance of language skills in a world economy and advances education goals for children of both nations.”

“We view this E-Learning project as a very significant one,” said Vice Minister Zhou Ji. “Through it, our kids can learn not only each other’s language, but also society, culture and history. We have a project which will benefit our children’s language learning today and subsequently help to build better mutual understanding and trust in the future.”

The E-Language Project was one of three Web-based education initiatives announced by President Bush at the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) forum in Shanghai last October.

The E-Language Project will address problems faced in many American schools that want to offer foreign language instruction but lack the teachers with the requisite foreign language skills. This system will also help schools with large immigrant populations needing English as a second language instruction, a major area of concern in the new No Child Left Behind Act. The E-Language Project will be especially useful for teaching English to Chinese students in the remote and rural areas of that country. The government of China is currently involved in basic education reform with their “Education for All” initiative. Making use of innovative technologies will help them reach all of their students.

The Education Department will contribute a total of $3 million to the U.S.-China E-Language Project through the Star Schools program, which is designed to encourage improved instruction in foreign languages and other subjects and to serve underserved populations, including the disadvantaged, illiterate, and limited-English proficient through the use of telecommunications.

The principles of the MOU signed today were reached as a result of several months of meetings and discussions by U.S. and China education officials. After the success of the first meeting last month of the technical working group of the joint U.S.-China E-Language Project in Beijing, the two countries decided to move forward in a more formal manner by signing a bilateral MOU. This agreement is one of several that are being signed by the Chinese and Americans preceding the visit of Chinese President Jiang to President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas on October 25.

More information on the E-Language Project and the technical working group can be found at:



Dan Langan, Stephanie Babyak or Jane Glickman, (202) 401-1576

CAdriana De Kanter, Program office, (202) 401-3132