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Learning Chinese best way to build cultural bridge, says Spanish student

XINHUA | Updated: 2024-02-26 08:22
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BARCELONA — According to Albert Estrada, studying Chinese is one of the best ways to get closer to the culture.

"After I first went to China in 2018, I set myself the goal of going there to live and to work as soon as possible, because I love the whole culture there," says the Spanish student, who has been studying at the Confucius Institute of Barcelona in Spain for five years.

His trip was inspired by Chinese friends.

"When I got to China, I saw it was a different world, and it fascinated me. It seemed like a wonderful place, the people treated me well, and when I got back, I began studying Chinese," he says.

The huge differences between the two languages mean that Chinese people find some aspects of Spanish grammar hard, he says, such as conjugating verbs. However, Spanish people find the pronunciation of Chinese, as well as Chinese characters, challenging.

"I wouldn't say I speak Chinese right now, I'm a student of Chinese, which is not the same thing. But the last few times I've been to China, I have been able to get by without resorting to English. I've been able to shop, buy food and talk to people," he says.

The Confucius Institute was founded in Barcelona in 2009 as part of a collaborative effort between Spanish and Chinese universities. It offers Chinese language courses at 14 different levels, as well as the HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) exams, China's official test of language proficiency for nonnative speakers.

Estrada is currently on the fourth of the six HSK levels, and is one of around 50,000 people studying Chinese in Spain.

He stresses that it is important to mix with Chinese people, both at home and in China.

"Breaking the linguistic barrier is the first step, and once they see that you are learning the language, they feel more relaxed and then it is easy to form a relationship," he says.

He spent two months in the country last summer, and hopes to visit for three months at the end of this year to experience Chinese New Year in China.


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