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Oz Encounter: An Australian teacher devoted to promoting Chinese language

(People's Daily Online)    10:04, May 02, 2018

In Australia today, there are approximately 200,000 people studying Chinese. Anywhere from primary school to university level, you will find Australian people learning Chinese. Behind them, an abundance of Chinese teachers devote their time and energy to help promote the Chinese language.

Scott Smith is one of them, but unlike the majority of Chinese teachers who have a Chinese background, he is a local Australian resident. In Chinese, his name is Shi Wenhua.

Mr. Smith has taught Chinese at university level for almost five years. Although he hasn’t taught Chinese for a long time, his friendship with China has been ongoing for almost 30 years. It all started when he was at university. While having lunch at his local food hall he spotted a student reading a Chinese book, which sparked his interest in the language and the history of China.

Having a strong interest in the country, Mr. Smith decided to study abroad in 1999. First, he went to Xi’an, China to study Chinese at Shaanxi Normal University. Then, his friend invited him to teach English in Urumqi, Xinjiang. It was in Xinjiang that he first became attracted to the Uyghur dialects.

“I thought if I could speak both Mandarin and Uyghur dialects, I could communicate and build a closer connection with the locals,” said Mr. Smith.

After six years of living in Urumqi, he moved to Beijing for work before moving back to Australia in 2008. During his time overseas, he was impressed by the transformation of China.

“I went to China in 1999 and at that time, Xi’an didn’t have any big supermarkets. Last month, I went to China and I found the amazing use of WeChat. You can use WeChat to pay your bill even in a small dumpling café,” said Mr. Smith.

When he arrived back in Australia, he began his Chinese-teaching career, believing that studying the language would help the next generation of Australians learn more about China. Going forward, it will also allow them to seize opportunities brought by the development of China and Australia.

“Nowadays, young students are very focused on the concept of globalization. If I can speak Chinese, I'm able to take a job in China, travel to China and work with Chinese people. It’s a great opportunity.”

Besides teaching, he also brings the latest news and information from China to his students. He is an active participant in various Chinese cultural events and he also publishes children’s books which involve Chinese stories and tales. From his perspective, changing the stereotypes regarding China and understanding the “real” China are important issues for Australia to consider.

In his opinion, Australians should learn more about the Chinese language as the relationship between China and Australia is sure to become closer in the future.(People’s Daily Online/ Tingting Yan)

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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