Photographer's Note

Since China is becoming the world’s economic number one, my country seems to be utterly fascinated by China and all things Chinese. A popular television programme sends local Flemish celebrities on a Chinese adventure trip, in newspaper Chinese politics are discussed almost on a daily basis and next week one of our leading quality papers will hand out free copies of Trotter, the Dutch version of Guide du Routard. And then there’s still the Olympics to come.

When I started studying Chinese in evening classes seven years ago, in Antwerp there was just one class of Chinese at just one school. Now four first-year classes are being organized by that school alone and countless other evening schools have started with Chinese language courses, not only in Antwerp but in many other cities too. In fact a few years ago one of the MP’s of the liberal-economic party proposed to have Chinese lessons in preschools. Although the idea was quickly abandoned, it does illustrate how fascinated we are.

As a language teacher I firmly believe in motivation and location. Although many Chinese learners in Belgium start out being highly motivated, this often diminishes quickly when they realize (1) that there is little opportunity to actually practice the language outside of China and (2) that Chinese is a very difficult language to learn. People that do engage in business with China soon find out that ‘their’ English usually is a lot better than ‘our’ Chinese and/or hire an interpreter.

So should we stop learning Chinese? Of course not. It still is the world’s biggest native language and studying Chinese is full of surprises, it can be fun, it can be poetic, it can be...everything.

For those curious about the picture:

The two characters are ‘xi’ (western) and ‘an’ (peace). Together they spell the name of China’s most famous ancient capital.
The second character (‘an’) is the most interesting one: it consists of the pictogram ‘woman’ under a pictogram ‘roof’. Together this constitutes ‘peace’, implying ‘quietness’ and ‘tranquillity’. The Chinese language knows many different kinds of peace...

(And, yes, the young student in the picture is my daughter, but I do hope this post is not against ToS.)

everlasting, ilvao, jguisado, ktanska, woozbman, colibriav, CLODO trouve(nt) cette note utile

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Additional Photos by Benny Verbercht (BennyV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2830 W: 35 N: 5853] (31046)
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