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Building Bridges: Chinese proficiency competition held in London

Li Jianhua


In a vibrant display of cultural diversity and linguistic skill, London has played host to the 23rd 'Chinese Bridge' Chinese Proficiency Competition at the British Library. As a platform for college students from all over the world to demonstrate their Chinese proficiency, the competition has sent more than 4,000 outstanding contestants to China for the global finals since 2002.

Nine contestants from universities across the United Kingdom on Thursday demonstrated their Chinese language skills, China-related talent shows, and knowledge of China. Chidimma Daisy Anyakora from the University was announced the champion; Francesca Pala from University of Leeds received the award for eloquence; and Genoa Gray from Heriot-Watt University was awarded the prize for the best talent show.

Having learned Chinese for about three years, Francesca said Chinese is her favourite among the five languages she can speak.

"I think learning Chinese the best part of my life. I really do like everything about the country, its culture and history," said Francesca. "I hope I can study or work in China after I graduate. Given the chance, I really want to go to China."


"Have You Eaten Yet?"

"Have you eaten yet?" is a turn of phrase in Chinese - which is equivalent to "how are you" in English. This is also the topic that Daisy May Lord, a student from Lancaster University, picked for her speech. This is quite an apt theme for her speech, given that she spent a great deal of her time working in a Chinese restaurant to hone her language skills.

"Originally I was supposed to study German and linguistics, and then I found out that Lancaster offers Chinese as a major. So I thought it's easier to learn Chinese at university rather than a language like Spanish or Italian. I think maybe I could study Spanish on my own at home, but Chinese I think I need more guidance from teachers and native speakers," said Daisy.

Daisy added that she sometimes teaches people around her about China and the Chinese people, believing it is good to build bridges and get to know each other's cultures.

Learning Chinese May Open a Window to Opportunities

Contestant representative of previous 'Chinese Bridge' competitions Maximilian Sleigh-Parrott said learning Chinese has brought him more opportunities.

"I got many job opportunities mainly because I learned Chinese. Chinese is not only just a language for me. It opened many doors to opportunities," said Maximilian. "Many Westerners don't understand China, mostly because they don't understand the language."

The Chinese language has been incorporated into the national curricula of 85 countries, and nearly 500 Confucius Institutes have been established in 160 countries and regions. So far, more than 30 million people are currently learning Chinese as a second language.

Yang Xiaoguang, Chargé d'Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in the UK, said all the contestants are welcome to visit China and hope they can use their Chinese language skills to bridge the understandings of different cultures.

"Our world today is facing a number of unprecedented challenges, such as those relating to public health, climate change, the preservation of biodiversity which require the cooperation of all countries. Learning Chinese will not only keep you help you appreciate the beauty of the language and the culture, but can also open a window to a better future," said Yang. 

Building Bridges: Chinese proficiency competition held in London

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