Russia-China Language Year Producing Real Results
While tens of thousands of Chinese can sing the Russian song Katyusha, thousands of Russian families regularly watch a Chinese teaching TV program named "Hello, China."
The 2009 Russian Language Year organized in China the 2010 Chinese Language Year in Russia are believed to have enhanced the interest of the two peoples to learn each other's languages with their colorful activities, such as speech competitions and TV programs.
RUSSIAN SONGS HEARD ACROSS CHINA
Wan Shouning, a 26-year-old Chinese man, won gold medal in "Chinese sing Russian songs competition last year with ian songs sung by Chinese" with his lyrical presentation of The Roads, a song composed during Russia's Great Patriotic War.
The contest reflected the Chinese people's affections for Russia, said Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui. Last October, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin personally awarded the medal to Wan.
Over 12,000 people took part in the competition, and many Chinese fans were eager to learn Russian songs. Russian judges were carried away by emotions when contestants rendered "Evening Near Moscow" "Troika" and other old Russian songs beautifully.
Currently, many universities in China list the Russian language as a major subject. There are also seven educational centers specialized in Russian language teaching.
During the Russian Language Year, over 260 events were held across China, attracting more than 100 million participants.
For Yao Guangyan, a 67-year-old citizen in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian, the Russian Language Year program was like a personal celebration.
In 1990, when he was 47, Yao started to study Russian on his own and collect Russian songs. He wished he can teach Chinese to sing modern Russian songs besides those from the Soviet period. So far he has published some collections of Russian songs.
Yao also has a Russian name, Vasili Ivanov. His bilingual business card has two lines in both Chinese and Russian that read "I love Russian, I love Russian songs."
In the Chinese teaching program "Hello, China," Russian TV channel Culture introduces China with a poetic description of the Yellow River, the cradle of the Chinese civilization.
"China is the homeland of silk. The Chinese invented china. They built the Great Wall," the program said.
"Thanks to this program, I learnt the history of many Chinese words and got to know the imagery of hieroglyphics," said German Kurnikov, a student in Moscow State Linguistics Institute.
Producers of "Hello, China" program picked up 100 terms to represent the traditional Chinese culture, like Beijing opera, Taijiquan (shadowboxing), kite, panda and so on. By learning them, Russians could know basic Chinese words and feel the "aroma" of the Chinese culture.
"Hello, China" is only a small part of the Chinese Language Year program, during which 87 events are expected to take place across Russia, including speech contests, singing competitions, seminars and music and movie weeks.
The Chinese Language Year in Russia has won acclaim from the Russian public and elevated the Russian people's interest in learning the Chinese language.
Currently Russia has 12 Confucius Institutes and one Confucius radio station. Nearly 100 Russian universities offer courses in Chinese with more than 10,000 students studying the language.
In Moscow alone, 13 schools offer Chinese language courses to over 2,000 students. In Far East and Siberia, the Chinese language has become even more popular in schools.
Yet more Chinese teaching programs are needed as the existing programs can hardly meet the growing demand in learning Chinese, said Pei Yufang, an official in the Chinese embassy in Moscow.
LITTLE AMBASSADORS OF FRIENDSHIP
"I come from China, and I'd like to invite you to visit China," said a group of Chinese children in Russian to their Russian peers. They came from earthquake-affected regions to the Russian city of Vladivostok for a visit in 2008. They managed to say the whole sentence in Russian after spending a whole class session.
In summer 2009, another group of 500 Chinese pupils visited Vladivostok. While in Russia, the Chinese children learnt to understand simple dialogues in Russian and sing popular Russian songs. They got along with their Russian peers so well that many cried when the time came for departure.
A year later, a group of Russian school children went to China. They had a good time in the host country and learnt to say in Chinese "I have fallen in love with China, and I'll be missing you."
"I still keep correspondence with my pals in China. I have decided to study Chinese and I'm going to continue studies in China," Yelena Batueva from Moscow, a participant in the exchange program, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
These remarks reflected the thoughts of many who visited China. Some of them told Xinhua that they want to become diplomats to help carry through the friendship to later generations.
Cultural exchange for children is an important part of the two Language Year programs. Those young visitors have served as little ambassadors for their countries. By learning each other's languages and culture, they lay a solid foundation for the Chinese-Russian friendship in the years to come.
The Chinese and Russian Language Year programs, said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov, go beyond the boundaries of language and covered all the aspects of cultural exchanges between the two countries.
Such events will enhance the cultural relations between the nations, and help further consolidate the friendship between the two peoples, he added.
Source: Xinhua News Agency