POST TIME: 16 August, 2018 12:14:07 AM
Learning Chinese
By Bipul K Debnath

Learning Chinese

Learners of foreign languages, especially students of different educational institutions in our country, are now marking Chinese as their top choice. The learners believe they have better career prospects by learning Chinese than any other language.

Several students, teachers and officials of Chinese language institutions gathered in Dhaka recently for a Chinese proficiency competition for foreign secondary school students. The participants showcased their knowledge of everything Chinese through various exciting performances, which included speeches, singing, poetry recitation, drawing, calligraphy, dancing, acrobatics, martial arts and traditional music.

“I am learning Chinese at Confucius Institute, which is located on the fifth floor of Dhaka University’s Arts Building. Though Chinese is a difficult language to learn, I find it very interesting,” Mehadi Hawlader, 22, a student of World Religion and Culture Department of Dhaka University, told this correspondent at the 11th ‘Chinese Bridge’ event, held on August 8 at Bengal Multimedia Studio in the capital’s Tejgaon area. The theme of this year’s competition was ‘learn Chinese language and spread friendship around the world’.

“I hope I will get a scholarship for further studies in Chinese language after completing my graduation. Being skilled in both English and Chinese languages, I want to be a Chinese teacher. Besides, there are many options of getting a job with a good salary in many Chinese multinational companies working in our country,” Hawlader added.

According to its brochure, Confucius Institute (CI) at Dhaka University (DU) offers opportunities for advanced study in China under the Chinese government and Confucius Institute scholarship programmes. The institute at DU is run in collaboration with China’s Yunnan University, under the direct supervision of Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing, China. The non-profit educational and research institution is working to promote Chinese language and culture, as well as academic exchanges between the two countries.

Another student, Shipon Hossain, 22, said: “Besides my mother tongue, I want to learn Chinese. So, I got enrolled at CI of DU. I am a level-2 student. I got the inspiration to learn Chinese from my older brother, who got his Master’s degree from China and is now working for Chinese companies and earning handsomely. At first, I faced difficulty in learning this language, but now I am enjoying it. Bangladesh and China have good bilateral ties. So, there is a huge potential to do well by learning Chinese.”

Musfiqul Islam, 24, a local entrepreneur and a student of CI at DU, said: “After completing my degree in electronics and electrical engineering from Asia Pacific University, I started an electronic accessories business. Most of my products come from China. Chinese investors come here to make business deals with local importers. But language becomes a barrier. So, I am learning this language to expand my business with them.”

Mozahed Hossain, 23, another Chinese learner, said: “I am a student of Pali and Buddhist Studies Department of Dhaka University. I enrolled at the Confucius Institute because I want to know more about charming Chinese culture, including calligraphy, music, paper-cutting and folding art, traditional music and cuisine, besides improving my skills of communicating in Chinese. I want to work as an interpreter for Chinese companies.”  

“I was inspired by my friends who are learning Chinese. Chinese investment in our country is increasing day by day and they are contributing to develop our country. If we work with them, we will definitely benefit. After completing this course, I will try for a Chinese scholarship,” Hossain added.

Rashed Khan, 24, who is also learning Chinese at DU’s CI, is a student of BUET (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology). “China has improved a lot in the field of science and technology. Now, most of the global software companies are from China. So, Chinese language is needed to operate the software,” he said.

“Chinese companies are grabbing the global market. So, we have to think of Chinese business policy. The biggest ‘Padma Bridge Project’ is being managed by Chinese engineering teams. China has the capacity to handle this big project. Not only that, their education system is also upgrading. Chinese universities are placing top in global ratings,” Khan said.

“I am going to China in September for a higher degree in engineering. I hope I will do better for our country after obtaining the degree. Our new generation needs to think of learning Chinese for a better future. Besides, we should learn this language to build friendship with China as they want everybody to come together through cooperation,” he added.

Three contestants who won top prizes in the Chinese Bridge’ competition _ Zobaida Tasneem Dewan, Maria Sultana and Sanjoy Saha _ will attend the final round in China later this year. The competition was organised by Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban), Embassy of China in Dhaka, as well as China Radio International (CRI)-Shanto Mariam Foundation (CMF) Confucius Classroom.

Zobaida Dewan, a student of class-8 at Academia, a private English-medium school at Uttara, said: “I am happy to get this prize. I hope I will also do well at the next level of competition, which will be held in China.” Explaining her fluency in Chinese, she added: “My father has been doing business in China and staying there for many years. I was born in China. So, Chinese is my first language. When I came back to Bangladesh, I had to learn Bangla. New learners do not need to worry about learning this language. Gradually, they will get to know about rich Chinese culture, poems and traditions.”

Towards the end of the programme, skilful displays of acrobatics and martial arts by local wushu and acrobatic teams awed the audience.

Chen Jian, a Chinese trainer of Bangladesh national wushu (kungfu) team, told Y&I: “When I came to Bangladesh, I saw people’s interest in wushu. I hope that will grow in future. Wushu players seem very fascinating and friendly when they come to practice (at Mirpur Indoor Stadium). There is huge scope to improve the skills of the players. For that, we are working hard and they are improving. We hope our players will take part in the next South Asian games and win medals. Of course, they will bring home gold.”  

Sanjoy Bhowmik, team leader of the Acrobatics Team of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA), said: “With the help of BSA and the Chinese Embassy in Dhaka, a 10-member team went to China for training on traditional Chinese acrobatics. I also took part in the course as team leader. Our young team members are performing well, and we are getting good response from acrobatic enthusiasts.”

At the start of the programme, Wang Siyu, a Chinese teacher of Confucius Institute at North South University (NSU), played an ancient Chinese string instrument, known as guqin. “I have been learning this instrument for seven years. It is quite hard to play and I have tried my best. I have done it as I believe introducing Chinese musical instruments in Bangladesh will be a good way to know the culture. I am also trying to take some knowledge of Bangladeshi musical instruments back to China. But, I am still trying to find a suitable instrument to learn,” he said.

About the number of students at CI of NSU, Wang said: “Students are increasing every semester. Many people here know China through kungfu or karate, but I think learning Chinese language is the best way to know more about the country. There are many institutions, including Confucius Classroom and Confucius Institute, which are providing Chinese language classes in many private and public universities in Bangladesh.” 

Photos: Courtesy.