NICOSIA, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- People in Cyprus, when they want to say that something is too difficult to understand or learn say "This is Chinese!"
Well, this could soon become a thing of the past as Chinese may soon be introduced in Cypriot primary and secondary schools or be learned privately.
A seminar organized by Confucius Institute of University of Cyprus on Friday discussed how and why Chinese can be learned at schools as a foreign language, drawing a lively interest from teachers and even expatriate Chinese living in Cyprus.
Xiaoming Zhu, the Deputy Director of the Confucius Institute at the Institute of Education (IOE), University College London (UCL) and a tutor of IOE's Mandarin Chinese course, discussed the issue of introducing Chinese into Cypriot schools.
She talked about the ways this can be done and why it is useful to learn Chinese.
She referred to the example of Britain, saying that the teaching and learning of Mandarin Chinese has developed from a rarely taught language to now a well-established Modern Foreign Language subject offered on curriculum in many state schools as well as independent schools in England.
Of course, introducing Chinese in Cypriot schools requires first of all qualified teachers and this was a subject on which a lively discussion developed at the seminar.
Wenying Yin, enlarged on the issue of training teachers of Chinese, based on her experience as the inspector of Chinese language teaching in the Paris school district and other school districts under the French Ministry of National Education.
She stressed that it is quite possible to train people to teach Mandarin Chinese, pointing out that according to official French statistics 50,000 students are learning the language in French primary and secondary schools this year.
She also presented the French experience, introducing the development of Chinese language teaching policy at the French Ministry of Education level, and analyzing how this policy has been successfully implemented at both the school district level and the individual school level.
Xinsheng Zhang, Professor of Chinese and Director of the Centre for Modern Languages at Richmond, the American International University in London, dealt with practicalities.
He talked on how Chinese is different from English and how differences between the two languages reflect different perspectives and thinking habits of these language users.
During discussion about the characteristics of Chinese culture and their evolution and about modern China, it was pointed out that these subjects have come to the forefront because of China's rapid development, apart from the fact that China has a long history and a rich cultural heritage to be proud of.
Elena, who took part in the seminar, said that for Cypriots, especially young people, who suffered the past years in the shadow of economic crises, learning Chinese language and culture could be more than an interest, but also a pragmatic choice for an ambitious career and a brighter future.