World / China-Saudi Arabia

Call to enhance teacher training

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-20 08:16

Senior Chinese scholars have called for training more people to bridge language and cultural gaps between China and Saudi Arabia and address the needs of both sides.

Cui Xiliang, president of Beijing Language and Culture University, has observed a recent boom in Chinese language learning worldwide. "Many universities in Saudi Arabia have voiced their hopes of establishing a Chinese language department," he said.

"However, there are a number of problems as there is a lack of excellent Chinese language teachers," Cui told a local newspaper while attending an academic forum at Anhui University in eastern China's Hefei in September.

Cui said many Chinese teachers serving at China's Confucius Institutes overseas are native speakers but lack knowledge of China's history and culture.

"They should be experts in Chinese culture, history and philosophy. Such aspects should be included in our Chinese language major teaching and learning, otherwise we will see a bad outcome," Cui said.

Li Chengwen, China's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Saudi Arabia media in 2014 that he was impressed with the ambitious plan of the country to diversify its economy via boosting its industrialization, and its national strategy to "reinforce education on a large scale".

When meeting with the Saudi minister of higher education in January 2015, the ambassador said China is ready to boost bilateral exchanges of college teaching experiences and further promote the teaching of the Chinese and Arabic languages.

In the meantime, some leading Chinese scholars on Arabian studies have won praise from Saudi Arabia for of their decadeslong dedication to introducing Arabic works into China.

Professor Zhong Jikun at Peking University and Zhu Weilie at Shanghai International Studies University won the Translation Award for Individual Efforts in Translation, part of the King Abdullah International Award for Translation, in 2011 and 2014 respectively.

In the announcement of the award in 2011, Zhong was said to have produced more than 80 works ranging from authorship and translation to literary writing and "his academic works contributed to strengthening the civilized communication among human cultures".

Zhu "is one of the famous translators and researchers that are interested in transferring the Islamic and Arab Cultures into Chinese", his award announcement said in 2014.

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