Arabic language opens doors for Chinese
Updated: 2013-05-08 11:01
By Mu Qian (China Daily)
The school has more than 1,200 students, most of whom are from the Hui ethnic group.[Photo/China Daily]
Ma says the job was difficult at first, because people from different Middle Eastern countries speak various dialects of Arabic, but says he became adept at practical dialogue in Arabic within a few months.
Many Chinese people with Arabic language skills start as interpreters, and later open their own companies to do international trade with Arabic countries. "When I have enough experience and clients, I will do that too," Ma says.
Tongxin Arabic Language School is China's first public medium-level Arabic language school, founded in 1985. The number of students it enrolls annually has grown from 20 to 200.
In Ningxia, Arabic schools at various levels offer language study, from smaller schools attached to mosques, to Ningxia University's School of Arabic Studies. Many vocational schools, such as Guyuan Agriculture School and Jingyuan Vocational School, have started Arabic programs in recent years.
More private Arabic schools have also appeared. The former Ningxia Muslim Vocational Skills Training School, located in Yongning county, transformed to become the Ningxia Muslim International Language School in 2010.
To teach Arabic, the school sets up classes of different specialties to cater to the employment market. Last year, the school started a class focused on construction because of the many projects by Chinese construction companies in the Middle East. The school plans to open a special class related to oil and gas in September, and a nursing class next year.
According to Ma Fengyong, director of office at Ningxia Muslim International Language School, about 95 percent of their students are from the Hui ethnic group, but there are also some Han students who are children of business people in Yiwu and Guangzhou.
The school now has 1,279 students and 120 faculty members, including three foreign teachers.
"I like my work here, because I enjoy sharing knowledge of the Arabic language with Chinese people," says Ghada Ahmed, a Tunisian teacher at the school. "Chinese students study very hard, and most of them speak fluent Arabic by the third year."
Ghada's sister Nabila Ahmed also works at the school, as an English teacher. English is considered the second most important subject at the school, because it is very useful in international trade.
As a result, each student here has three names - Chinese, Arabic and English.