Running with the Beijingers

Updated: 2011-06-17 11:18

By Liu Xiaozhuo (China Daily European Weekly)

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Running with the Beijingers
Inma Gonzalez Puy has lived in China since 1979 and helps promote Spanish culture. Liu Zhe / for China Daily 

Spanish Culture expert helps open career doors for MORE Chinese

When Spain won the World Cup last year it was not only an exciting time for football fans but it also kick started a Spanish-language learning boom in China. Beijing Cervantes Institute is now full of Chinese students busy reading in the library or preparing for classes. Spanish, once considered a minor language in China, is now appealing to more young people looking to broaden their horizons and find international jobs.

Institute director Inma Gonzalez Puy, speaking in perfect Mandarin, says she wants more Chinese people to understand Spanish and appreciate her native culture.

"There are more than 1 billion people in the world speaking Spanish, so it is not a minor language as many Chinese people may think," she says.

In 2006, the Spanish government founded the Beijing Cervantes Institute as a part of an agreement between China and Spain.

The institute not only provides language classes but also facilitates better cultural understanding between the people of both nations. Gonzalez Puy played a key role in setting up the organization.

"At present, Chinese people are getting more and more familiar with Spain and Spanish culture. However, there are still lots of things about Spain that they do not know, like Spanish fashion design, food, architecture and our healthy lifestyle," Gonzalez Puy says.

Business relationships between China and Spanish-speaking South America are growing fast as China places more importance to this developing market.

Chinese companies trying to do business in South America are now seeking more employees who can speak both Chinese and Spanish.

"Learning Spanish helps students find a more satisfactory job," Gonzalez Puy says.

The number of students learning Spanish in Beijing Cervantes Institute is increasing year by year. In 2010, about 5,000 Chinese students were learning Spanish and the number has risen further this year.

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