Chinese Makes “Country at End of World” No Longer a Remote Place

[Source]    Xinhua News Agency [Time]    2017-07-12 17:28:01 

“I take selfies by ‘Meitu’, film with ‘Meipai’ and ‘Xiaokaxiu’, sing with ‘ChangBa’ and chat on ‘WeChat’…” said Samira Padilla, a Chilean girl, as she introduces to the audience the Chinese APPs she uses everyday with great familiarity.

On July 7th, on the final of the 10th Chinese Bridge Chinese Proficiency Competition for High School Students in Chile, Padilla won the second prize. The first prize went to Jeffers Bruhier. Two “Chinese Fans” Ignacia Caccamo and Valentina Alarcon came third.

“From being curious to being fascinated to the Chinese culture, I’ve become a true “Chinese Fan”. I can even show off my dumpling making skills, and I am kind of a celebrity at school”, said the fifteen-year-old Caccamo.

Caccamo’s Chinese name is Li Sha. She said, “It is a fashionable but ordinary thing to say ‘Ni Hao’ when we greet each other on campus.”

Contestant Luo Lina singing in the competition in Santiago, the capital of Chile on July 7th

Currently there are sixteen public schools in Chile that offer Chinese language courses, among which nine schools make Chinese an elective course while the rest seven ask students to pick one language from Germany, French, Chinese and other languages as their compulsory second foreign language; and for Chinese, once chosen, it becomes students’ compulsory course.

Karina Peña, the manager of the foreign language promotion program of the Ministry of Education of Chile, told Xinhua in an interview on July 7th that ever since the former Chilean Minister of Education Sergio Bitar asked public schools to open Chinese courses in 2005, more than 10,000 Chilean students have received formal Chinese language education in class.

“Chinese is one of the most difficult languages in the world. Learning Chinese can exercise both the left brain and right brain, so it is helpful for the development of students’ cognitive capabilities. The structure of Chinese characters is imaginative. Understanding Chinese characters can equip students with high-level creativity”, said Peña.

She said that more and more public schools in Chile hope to offer Chinese language courses. At the beginning, Chinese was only taught at private schools for the elite class; but now, it is offered at public schools, which proved the wisdom of the famous saying “make no social distinctions in teaching” from Confucius himself. The Ministry of Education of Chile supports all schools to teach Chinese and will introduce the Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) to test students’ Chinese level.

Contestant Kong Zhengfan performing lion dance in Santiago, the capital of Chili on July 7th

Sun Xintang, Deputy Director of the Confucius Institute Latin America Regional Center, told Xinhua that Latin America is the world's fastest-growing region of Chinese teaching, and Chile comes first in Chinese teaching and promotion of Chinese culture among other Latin American countries. Chile has two Confucius Institutes, and the Chilean Ministry of Education, public schools and private schools all show great enthusiasm for Chinese teaching. Currently, there are 50 Chinese teachers teaching in Chile sent by Hanban, making Chile one of target countries with the most Chinese teachers from Hanban.

Chile, far away from China, is also known as “the country at the end of the world”. However, the Chinese language makes the end of the world no longer remote.

“I want to become a bridge connecting Chinese and Chilean people, take Chilean fresh fruit and red wine and Chilean people’s enthusiasm to China, and bring back China’s splendid culture to the Chilean capital, Santiago, to the northern Atacama Desert, to Punta Arenas in the south, and to every inch of “the end of the world”, said Jeffers Bruhier, the first prize winner of the competition.

(Story by Dang Qi, Wang Pei, Xinhua News Agency, Santiago, July 7th; photos by Wang Pei)