Mandarin becoming prevalent in BC
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.”