After several hard and exhausting weeks, classes are finally over. It is time to get back to writing.
Last Saturday the 22nd of March, I took part at the “Chinese Bridge” competition.
The Chinese Bridge Proficiency Competition is an international competition organized by the Chinese National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language or short Hanban汉办, which is governed by the Office of Chinese Language Council International 中国国家汉语国际推广领导小组办公室, a non-profit organisation affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the PRC.
This annual event has been held since 2002 and it has attracted over 593 college students from 59 nations to participate in semi-finals and finals held in China. Over 500,000 students from all over the globe participated in the preliminary rounds.
The contents of the competition include Chinese language proficiency, knowledge about China, Chinese cultural skills and comprehensive learning abilities. Students who win the preliminary rounds will qualify to go to China for the finals. These students will also get scholarships to further their studies in China. While in China, they will have the opportunity to take part in many different cultural events.
There are two different categories, a competition for Middle School and High School students, and for university students. Obviously I took part at the latter.
I have to admit though, initially I refused to take part. Even though way back then when I started learning Chinese, I thought this as my goal; to take part at the international language competition. But years later, I have seen and heard a lot. There have been a lot of controversies around this competition. As Hugh Grigg in his blog post Why I refused to enter 汉语桥 (Chinese Bridge) points out, it seemed more like ‘Foreigners Got Talent’ than a real language competition.
But my Chinese teacher stayed persistent. Since January he kept on asking me to participate. I gave in and, honestly, I don’t regret it.
Even though, the whole event still felt a bit like show casting foreigners who try to be stereotypically Chinese, I still gained a lot from it.
This competition is a great platform for international college students to learn the Chinese language and learn more about China. I have met a great number of interesting and amazing people. I have seen show acts which just blew my mind, never thought that the standard of the competition was so high. If I would have known, I might have prepared.
Yes, it is true, I started out because my teacher pushed me, but I am very grateful he did. I have enjoyed that event so much. That’s why I recommend everyone who studies Chinese to go and try. Don’t just listen to negative people, try for yourself. If you don’t like it, at least you have the experience to strengthen your argument. And trust me, you will learn a lot. Not just about the Chinese language and culture, but also about yourself. And never forget, such events are a great platform for networking. Especially, if you get send to China to take part in the finals.
So, Chinese learners out there: Go for it!
Have you ever taken part at any language competition? What do you think? Do they help to improve language learning?
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