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Bilingual Budapest students learn the Chinese way

Evangelo Sipsas in Budapest


Hungary and China have been enjoying a boom in trade relations since 2013 when the former became the first European country to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Strong business links have prompted many Hungarian students to take an interest in learning Mandarin. There's perhaps no better place to see this than the Chinese Bilingual School in Budapest.

‌Here, young people learn to speak Mandarin, with some graduates going on to study in China.

Fedra Feliczi and Loretta Grof are excited to be traveling to study in China. /CGTN
Fedra Feliczi and Loretta Grof are excited to be traveling to study in China. /CGTN

Fedra Feliczi and Loretta Grof are excited to be traveling to study in China. /CGTN

Student Loretta Grof is set to travel to China to begin studying at Peking University. ‌"I didn't believe it. I still don't believe it because this university is one of the top universities in the world," Grof told CGTN. "I think I will realize that I'm actually studying at Peking University when I arrive in Beijing," she beamed.

‌Located just 15 minutes from the center of the Hungarian capital, the Chinese Bilingual School is unique. It's the only such institution in central and eastern Europe, teaching in Mandarin and Hungarian.

‌When it first opened its doors in 2004, the school was mostly targeted at the Chinese diaspora; 20 years later, seven out of every 10 students are Hungarian.

‌"Since I have been learning this language for 12 years now, it has become my second native language, so I sometimes think in Chinese," said Fedra Feliczi, Loretta's friend and another student going off to China.


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‌Those language skills are increasingly useful, especially as trade between Hungary and China continues to increase.

"It is every teacher's dream, and now it's coming true," headteacher Zsuzsanna Erdelyi told CGTN. "This year, 10 students will be studying in higher education in China. I hope that they can make it and that the language skills they have acquired over the years here will help them land good positions in China or jobs requiring Chinese," she added.

In 2015‌, Hungary was the first country in the EU to sign a memorandum of understanding, joining the BRI, China's massive infrastructure programme. It's given rise to projects such as the Budapest to Belgrade railway.

‌Now, with more than half of the country's foreign investment coming from China, interest and student enrolment in this bilingual school has never been higher.

Bilingual Budapest students learn the Chinese way

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