Newsletter: A Chinese Language Instructor in France

[Source] [Time]    2018-05-07 08:50:57 

On the evening of April 30th, some on-job trainees attended the class at the Confucius Institute at Paris Diderot University, following the teacher to repeatedly practice Chinese words and phrases such as “panda”, “a cup of tea”, “read the map” and “Chinese dragon”. They were lectured by Li Bingzhi, a “post-90s” girl from Hunan Province, China.

In 2015, Li came back home from France after obtaining a master’s degree in Applied French and served as a French teacher at Ningxia University. In 2016, she was selected to work at the Confucius Institute at Paris Diderot University. She can speak fluent French, so she is mainly responsible for the beginner and elementary class.

Although she did not major in teaching Chinese as a foreign language, she teaches in a systematic way that the teaching materials are as close to the real life of the trainees as possible. For example, “I am going to see the baby pandas in ZooParc de Beauvel” and “There is no dragon in Long Shan in China and there are no rats in Montsouris in Paris”. The trainees remember the language points in a hearty laugh.

For Li, it is not an easy task to give a satisfying Chinese lesson to French trainees. She told the journalist from Xinhua News Agency, “Most French trainees are very curious about Chinese culture and even in the elementary class, I need to explain a lot of Chinese culture, which takes much effort to prepare”. When it comes to the phrase “a cup of tea”, she will explain the tea ceremony, such as the custom of serving tea to parents at weddings.

In Li’s class, the trainee who has made the greatest progress is Fabian. His direct motive in learning Chinese is “his Chinese wife”. “My wife speaks French, but her parents can’t speak French. I hope I can communicate with them in Chinese. I’ve been to China for 3 times and the city and people there have impressed me. I also enjoy learning this language!”

For the undergraduate student Camille, learning Chinese is purely out of curiosity. Last year, she took part in an exchange program of the university and went to China for half a year. “It’s so interesting and everything makes me curious. After I returned to France, I came here to sign up for the class. The teachers here are very professional. Although I have been in the class for only over 20 hours, I feel that I have made great progress.”

Li said that now the trainees include undergraduate students, in-service staff and retirees. For the convenience of the trainees, most classes are arranged at night and on Saturday. Most retirees are keenly interested in Chinese culture, some of whom have worked in China and have deep feelings for it. In addition to work requirements, like Fabian, many in-service staff learn Chinese because of their Chinese spouses. As there are many universities close to Paris Diderot University, many students come to study Chinese after school. “Students who learn Chinese are often out of curiosity at first, and later those who insist till the end have a special love for Chinese culture. Their pure love for Chinese language and Chinese culture touches me.”

It is learnt that the Confucius Institute at Paris Diderot University was officially established in 2007, which is the first Confucius Institute in Paris based on China-France cooperation. Now there are 5 Chinese teachers including the Chinese director, a French director and a French secretary, as well as nearly 500 trainees in the institute. To meet the French trainees’ needs for learning Chinese and Chinese culture, Chinese painting class, calligraphy class, guzheng class have been set up in recent years.

At present, there are 17 Confucius Institutes and 3 Confucius Classrooms in France, providing French citizens with a platform for learning Chinese and Chinese culture. In recent years, the number of French people who study Chinese has grown rapidly, exceeding over 100, 000. The contributions of Chinese teachers like Li Bingzhi are indispensable for effective promotion of Chinese in France.

Despite of hard work, Li is fulfilled with a sense of accomplishment. “When I see that the elementary-class trainees can communicate in Chinese, a lot of trainees who come back from China think that Chinese people live a well-off and modern life, and they even do a PPT to introduce China in their eyes to other people, I think this job is worthy,” Li Bingzhi said.

(Story by Zhang Man, Xinhua News Agency, Paris, May 1st)


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