Newsletter: Great Results Achieved in Chinese Teaching in Spain

[Source] [Time]    2018-11-30 18:26:43 

“Looking and looking, looking for a good friend.” A group of little children, in sweet and loud voice, were singing a well-known Chinese ballad in a primary school classroom in Spain.

Outside the classroom, lush olive trees were hidden between the red roof and the carved colonnade pillars. Here was a primary school in the small town of Amelia in the Andalusia Autonomous Region in Spain, where Spanish children in this school began to learn Chinese from the first grade.

The Chinese class in Amelia’s primary school well demonstrates how Spanish children are learning Chinese at school in Spain.

According to Zhong Xiwei, Head of the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy in Spain, more than 200 primary and secondary schools in Spain offer Chinese courses. In Madrid Autonomous Region alone, 32 primary and secondary schools offer Chinese courses.

“Andalusia Autonomous Region is one of the largest autonomous regions in both population and area in Spain and people there are more interested in learning Chinese.” Abelardo de la Rosa Díaz, Director of Educational Planning Office of the Department of Education in Andalusia Autonomous Region, said proudly.

Since 2011, Andalusia Autonomous Region has experimented with the introduction of Chinese into its formal educational system at primary and secondary school level throughout the region. At present, 8 provinces in this region has Confucius Classrooms, with 34 official Chinese teaching sites and a total enrollment of 3,800 students, a sixfold increase in 7 years.

On November 9th, the second working conference on “Chinese Teaching Status Quo in Spain’s Educational System” was held in Barcelona. Participants from the two countries reached a consensus that the Chinese language should be officially included in the Spanish “college entrance examination” as soon as possible and become an official examination subject for the college entrance examination.

At the same time, great results have been achieved, especially by Confucius Institutes, in teaching adults Chinese in Spain.

So far, eight Confucius Institutes have been established in Spain, from Valencia on the coast to Granada at the foot of snow-capped mountains, from the bustling capital Madrid to the serene ancient city of Toledo. The Chinese language and culture are being taught in other parts of Spain with local characteristics. Thus, a bridge for communication has been set up between China and Spain.

In 2010, the Confucius Institute in Barcelona established a foundation which operates as an independent legal entity. In the past eight years, it has signed cooperation agreements with 12 universities in Catalonia Autonomous Region, forming a “1+12” Chinese teaching system that covers the whole region. According to Chang Shiru, Chinese Director of the Institute and Director of the foundation, the “large scale of Confucius Institutes” and the form of the foundation enable Confucius Institutes to operate more flexibly, winning great popularity from more institutions.

The Confucius Institute in Madrid gives full play to its advantages of the capital and its Chinese community. Chen Danna, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute, said, “The Confucius Institute actively participates in various mainstream cultural activities, including the New Year parade, and also organizes events with the Chinese community during the Spring Festival to present the charm of the Chinese culture to Madrid citizens.” At present, the Institute has more than 700 registered students each year, and the number of students has grown steadily over the years.

“Academic Confucius Institute” is a brand that the Confucius Institute at the University of Granada has for many years pursued to establish. The Institute is jointly run by Peking University and University of Granada. Fan Ye, the first Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute, is the translator of the Chinese version of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Alicia Relinque Eleta, Spanish sinologist and current Spanish Director of the Institute, is the translator of the Spanish versions of The Peony Pavilion and The Golden Lotus, two classical Chinese stories. By virtue of the academic attainments of the two universities, the Institute has become an important base for sinology and academic exchange in Spain.

Lyu Wenna, current Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Granada said that the Institute, since its establishment in 2008, has been dedicated to “in-depth” research and promotion of sinology, and has organized 28 academic lectures this year. “Our Institute operates on the principle of academic priority.” Bu Shan, former Director of the Institute, expressed a similar view.

According to the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy in Spain, currently more than 50,000 people are learning Chinese in Spain, and the number of people taking the HSK test in Spain is the highest among all European countries. Meanwhile, more than 4,000 Spanish students are studying in China.

Celeste Bañeza, a student from Cáceres, a small town in the south of Spain, studied Chinese for four years at college. After graduation, she first taught Spanish at Suzhou Foreign Language School and then returned to Spain to teach Chinese at a school. “The most wonderful thing about learning Chinese is that I have become a teacher. Learning Chinese means more diverse job opportunities and everyone by learning Chinese can achieve better career development.”

Belén Castiñeira, a Spanish girl, also got an opportunity for a better life by learning Chinese. She has lived in Beijing for 6 years, working with the Lenovo Group. “The Chinese market is vibrant, creating limitless possibilities for young people. Living in Beijing, I have learned how to pursue personal success.”

With China’s rapid development and continuous promotion of Chinese language education, more and more Spanish people have become associated with this ancient oriental language, and their life has undergone “wonderful changes” as a result of this association. As Hose Morente, an international student, puts it: “Chinese always has a special place in my heart.”

(Story by Guo Qiuda, Feng Junwei, Xinhua News Agency, Madrid, November 25th)

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