“Members of the National Assembly of Thailand (NAT) Speaking Chinese to Be Normal in Future”

[Source]    People’s Daily Overseas Edition [Time]    2018-08-01 10:04:47 

Gao Huimin instructing students at the “Chinese Training Workshop for Members of Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly (NLA)”

“Hello everyone! I am Air Force Marshal Chalit Pukpasuk, it is my first time to Xiamen. Nice to meet you...” Xu Xipeng, President of Huaqiao University met with the practice group to China organized by the program to develop the Chinese proficiency of the members of the NLA. Chalit introduced himself in Chinese which he has only learned for half a year.

The 64-year-old Air Force Marshal Chalit is a student of the “Chinese Training Workshop for Members of NLA” and also a member of the practice group to China organized by the program to develop the Chinese proficiency of its members. From July 1st to 5th, led by the First Vice-President of NLA Surachai Liengboonlertchai, the group visited Xiamen, Quanzhou and other places to conduct cultural study and language practice.

In addition to Surachai and Chalit, 7 other students are also members of the National Assembly of Thailand (NAT), including 2 army generals, 2 air force marshals and 3 university leaders, all of which are above 60 years old.

“Chinese Training Workshop for Members of NLA” was jointly organized by the Secretariat of the Senate and the Confucius Institute at Kasetsart University. This program was mainly to customize the Chinese language training lessons for the members of the NAT, helping them to master the Chinese oral expressions of greetings, receptions, communications, local customs and practices and politics as well as economy during the high-level mutual visits and offer them practical activities in China, so as to improve their Chinese language and further promote China-Thailand cooperation.

With the support of the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban), the first “Chinese Training Workshop for Members of NLA” opened this January, for which 20 members of NLA signed up for in total. In the 20-week teaching period, the workshop paid more attention to the oral speaking of the students and simulating language environment for communication.

“The members of NLA studied very hard,” said Gao Huimin, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at Kasetsart University and the Vice President of Huaqiao University who boasts over 10-year overseas Chinese teaching experience was the main lecturer of the Workshop. She said also that “the Workshop has 2 lessons every week and each lesson lasts for 2 hours.”

Among the practice group which visited Huaqiao University and Xiamen and conducted language practice and Chinese cultural inspection, 9 members were students from the first term Workshop.

Before going to China, the members of the NLA had the last Chinese class themed “Shopping”. During the inspection in Xiamen, the practice group conducted an interesting “Chinese language practice” activity. Surachai assigned the language practice tasks for every member of the NLA, letting them use Chinese to do shopping on Zhongshan Road, Xiamen and use Chinese to communicate with the sellers.

“The biggest achievement for me is that I can use Chinese to introduce myself in formal meetings,” Chalit said. He expressed also that in the language environment of China, the Chinese language would “come out automatically”. When he went to Zhongshan Road for shopping, it was easy for him to ask “how much?” and “Can you make it cheaper?” in Chinese.

Why should a member of the NLA and ACM still need to learn Chinese? Chalit answered that “Never too old to learn! Moreover, China is developing rapidly and has bigger and bigger international influence, making Thailand-China exchanges much closer. My Chinese proficiency will make my communication with Chinese leaders smoother and our friendship deeper.” He expressed that after this practice and exchanges in China, he has obtained more momentum and confidence in learning Chinese. After going home, he will make further discussion with the teachers on the curriculum setting and encourage more members of NLA to study Chinese.

On July 11th, the graduation ceremony of the “Chinese Training Workshop for Members of NLA” was held at the Thai parliament building. And the second-term Chinese Training Workshop for Members of NLA will be held on August 14th.

“In the future, it will be quite normal for members of the NAT to speak Chinese.” Chalit gave big support for the members of the NLA to study Chinese language and expressed that this program will be held for quite a long time to help the members of the NLA to continuously improve their Chinese, so as to promote successful high-level exchanges and visits between the two countries, further deepen the friendly bilateral relations and realize that “China and Thailand are as close as one family”.

“Under the great background of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China, the high-level mutual visits between the two countries play a more important role in policy communication. Thai members’ usage of Chinese in the exchanges and mutual visits will have unexpected effects on deepening understanding, enhancing relationship and strengthening communication.” According to Lv Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Thailand.

(Story by Wu Jianghui and Tian Zhongqi, People’s Daily Overseas Edition, Page 9, July 27th, 2018)

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