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Speaking in one language

By ZHOU WENTING | China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-02 08:59
Zeynep Kucuk from Turkey gives a Mandarin class. [Photo by Zhou Wenting / China Daily]

Zeynep Kucuk from Turkey was giving a Mandarin class to six international students and teaching them how to use the Chinese phrase "yibian ..., yibian ...", which literally means "doing one thing while doing another".

Kucuk began her class with a solo dance performance while she sang Jasmine Flower, a famous Chinese folk song, as she explained to the students that it was "yibian singing, yibian dancing".

The 23-year-old, a graduate student majoring in teaching Chinese to speakers of other languages at Fudan University, then asked the students to make a sentence with the phrase, and one student replied with "yibian driving, yibian making a phone call".

"But this is obviously forbidden and against the law," said Kucuk, as the class of students burst into laughter.

This took place on April 21, when 18 international students at universities in Shanghai and neighboring Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces showcased their talent for teaching Mandarin in simulated classes during a contest. They each had 10 minutes to give a simulated class to teach foreign students how to use a specific Chinese phrase.

Apart from giving simulated classes, the contestants also had to answer questions about Chinese culture, such as what are "the Four Great Classic Novels", "the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China", the customs of traditional Chinese festivals, and the 12 Chinese signs of the zodiac.

The contest was part of a national competition organized by the Hanban, the Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing, to further elevate the standard of education to help colleges teaching the major to carry out more exchanges.

Five of the contestants, including Tsomejio Atsah from Cameroon, who came first in the competition, will head to Beijing to participate in a national final in June.

Kucuk, who majored in Mandarin for her bachelor's degree in Turkey and spent her junior year at Xiamen University in Fujian province, won third prize.

She describes Turkey as a combination of Europe and Asia culturally, but she had been more interested in Asian culture, especially that of China, since childhood. "The Chinese are generally reserved, and they are polite," she says.

Kucuk says she was looking to work in China because it offered lots of opportunities because of its rapid development, but was not sure about which type of job or industry to choose as the country is evolving so quickly, and new industries are emerging every year.

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