De­mand grows for Ser­bian lan­guage grad­u­ates

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By LU­OWANG­SHU lu­owang­shu@ chi­

Chi­nese stu­dents ma­jor­ing in the Ser­bian lan­guage are ben­e­fit­ing from the coun­try’s in­creas­ing co­op­er­a­tion with the Repub­lic of Ser­bia, ac­cord­ing to the di­rec­tor of the only Chi­nese univer­sity that has a Ser­bian lan­guage pro­gram.

“In re­cent years, an in­creas­ing num­ber of our grad­u­ates in Ser­bian have been re­cruited by Chi­nese com­pa­nies who are ei­ther look­ing to start or con­tin­u­ing business in Ser­bia,” said Yao Jie, di­rec­tor of the Ser­bian lan­guage re­search sec­tion at Beijing For­eign Stud­ies Univer­sity.

In the past, the majority of the grad­u­ates be­came gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees with the Com­merce and For­eign Af­fairs min­istries.

The univer­sity ad­mit­ted its first stu­dents wish­ing to study Ser­bian in 1963 and has taught more than 100 grad­u­ates so far. Ser­bian ma­jors are ad­mit­ted ev­ery four years and num­ber around 12 at BFSU.

A master’s de­gree pro­gram was started in 2002, and three stu­dents have since gained master’s de­grees in the sub­ject.

“Our grad­u­ates are Premier Li Ke­qiang’s in­ter­preters dur­ing his visit to Ser­bia,” Yao said.

Yao grad­u­ated from BFSUin the 1980s and pur­sued fur­ther study in Bel­grade, Ser­bia’s cap­i­tal, re­turn­ing to BFSU as a fac­ulty mem­ber.

Although de­mand for the lan­guage is great, mas­ter­ing Ser­bian is dif­fi­cult.

“It is def­i­nitely one of the hard­est for­eign lan­guages for Chi­nese stu­dents to learn,” he said.

Ser­bian has both com­pli­cat­ed­gram­marand­pro­nun­ci­a­tion. It has six verb forms and seven noun forms.

Huang Xue­jia, a na­tive of Harbin, in Hei­longjiang prov­ince, is a ju­nior Ser­bian-ma­jor stu­dent at BFSU. The 21-year-old still re­mem­bers the tough days in her first year of learn­ing Ser­bian.

“It was so hard and could not get the gist of then,” Huang said.

Be­sides at­tend­ing reg­u­lar classes and fin­ish­ing as­sign­ments, she spent four to six hours a day study­ing the lan­guage. By the end of her fresh­man year she had made some progress.

“I could speak the lan­guage a lit­tle more nat­u­rally and wor­ried less about gram­mat­i­cal er­rors,” she said, adding that it was tougher than her fi­nal year in high school, whichis usu­ally con­sid­ered the most dif­fi­cult year for Chi­nese stu­dents be­fore the na­tional col­lege en­trance exam.

Huang still spends four hours a day lis­ten­ing to and read­ing the­newsin Ser­bian.

All Ser­bian stu­dents at BFSU are spon­sored by the State to take a one-year ex­change pro­gram at the Univer­sity of Bel­grade, and Huang is one of them.

“Ser­bian peo­ple are very friendly to the Chi­nese,” she said. “I re­mem­ber when I was a vol­un­teer trans­la­tor at a Chi­nese higher ed­u­ca­tion expo in Ser­bia and had to trans­late for a Ser­bian vis­i­tor to the expo and a Chi­nese univer­sity pres­i­dent. They had a won­der­ful chat and sang a popular Ser­bian movie song to­gether.”

“I can sense the power of the cul­ture be­tween the two peo­ples,” she said. I it

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