Man­darin be­com­ing preva­lent in BC

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By JUS­TINE HUANG in Van­cou­ver For China Daily

As the city with the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of Chi­nese in Canada, Van­cou­ver has been a new home for many Chi­nese im­mi­grants, and a key gate­way to China for trade and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries.

Over the last few years, de­mand for Man­darin speak­ers in ev­ery­day set­tings has in­creased more rapidly than ever. Many places in down­town Van­cou­ver and Rich­mond be­gan show­ing signs an­nounc­ing ser­vice in both English and Man­darin.

Since Man­darin Chi­nese has been ranked first as the most widely spo­ken lan­guage in the world, with 955 mil­lion speak­ers as of last year, Van­cou­ver nat­u­rally be­came a city with a grow­ing num­ber of lo­cals in­ter­ested in learn­ing not only the lan­guage but more about Chi­nese cul­ture as well.

Si­mon Fraser Univer­sity (SFU) of­fers both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to learn more about the Chi­nese cul­ture and lan­guage through its dou­ble mas­ter’s de­gree in global com­mu­ni­ca­tions taught jointly by SFU and the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Univer­sity of China.

“I am tak­ing a Man­darin class. I think Man­darin is a very use­ful lan­guage to learn, es­pe­cially in Van­cou­ver,” said El­iz­a­beth Arnold, a Cana­dian-born grad­u­ate stu­dent in the pro­gram.

“I am also in­ter­ested in Chi­nese women’s ex­pe­ri­ence in China — their cul­tural val­ues, chal­lenges, in­ter­ests, nightlife and thoughts about Feminism.”

An­other stu­dent from the pro­gram, Camila Jatahy said, “I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the tra­di­tional cul­ture that has lin­gered in China through­out the years — the ar­chi­tec­tural style, the fam­ily-ori­ented house­hold.”

“Speak­ing of the re­cent cel­e­bra­tions for Chi­nese New Year, I had the op­por­tu­nity to watch the Chi­nese pa­rade and en­joy some tra­di­tional food in Hong Kong when I was 7 years old,” said Jatahy.

“I only know that Chi­nese New Year is based on the lu­nar cal­en­dar, which usu­ally hap­pens in Fe­bru­ary. I would love to learn more about the ac­tiv­i­ties and tra­di­tions that take place dur­ing the New Year.”

Jatahy’s class­mate, Ma­lika Bara­tova of Uzbek­istan, said, “I have heard of Chi­nese New Year but have never cel­e­brated it. I only know that each year is a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal in a 12-year cy­cle. I would be in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about it through lo­cal events in Van­cou­ver, such as the up­com­ing Chi­nese New Year pa­rade in Chi­na­town, and vis­it­ing lo­cal Chi­nese mar­kets.”

To help more Van­cou­ver lo­cals in­ter­ested in learn­ing Man­darin and un­der­stand­ing the Chi­nese cul­ture, the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute at the Bri­tish Columbia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (BCIT) started a Chi­nese lan­guage and cul­ture club in 2010. Cur­rently there are more than a thou­sand mem­bers reg­is­tered, and nu­mer­ous na­tive-speak­ing vol­un­teers or­ga­niz­ing var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties and events reg­u­larly to help and prac­tice Man­darin with the mem­bers.

In Fe­bru­ary 2006, the Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute from Bei­jing in­au­gu­rated its first in­sti­tute in Canada at BCIT with the goal of im­prov­ing Chi­nese lan­guage teach­ing in BC and en­hanc­ing the Chi­nese iBT test­ing sys­tem in North Amer­ica, as well as or­ga­niz­ing cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties around Van­cou­ver.

I would love to learn more about the ac­tiv­i­ties and tra­di­tions that take place dur­ing the New Year.”

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