Feature: Learning Chinese catches on in Türkiye

(Xinhua) 10:04, April 22, 2024

ISTANBUL, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Meryem Nur Tasciova has harbored a long-standing dream of learning Chinese since her high school days. Now the Turkish girl is finally seeing her dream come true as she becomes a university student majoring in Chinese language and literature.

"I chose Chinese because ... it is one of the most widely spoken languages globally, and at the same time, pursuing a career in Chinese offers more opportunities," she explained.

"I aspire to work as a translator, yet teaching also interests me because it allows me to engage in meaningful conversations with people," added Tasciova.

The trend of learning Chinese is sweeping across the globe, and Türkiye is no exception. Over the past few years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of people in Türkiye studying Chinese.

Cile Maden Kalkan, an academic in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Ankara Haci Bayram Veli University, said universities nationwide are creating more openings for students and teachers to accommodate the increasing interest.

"Turkish youth are particularly interested in learning Chinese to pursue careers in the private sector and to explore opportunities in trade-based entrepreneurship," Kalkan told Xinhua.

According to Kalkan, China's promising economic prospects, rapidly advancing technological capabilities, and achievements in modernization are among the primary reasons driving the worldwide interest in its language.

"China today acts as a magnet, attracting investments from countries worldwide," Kalkan noted, stressing that "gaining proficiency in the language of a nation that significantly influences the global economy offers significant advantages for our students."

Founded in 1999, the Turkish-Chinese Cultural Association has also witnessed a notable increase in demand for Chinese language courses in recent years.

In 2024, the number of students in Istanbul and Ankara reached 720, a significant increase from 300 the previous year. Apart from offering in-person classes, the association also delivers Chinese language lessons to schools, colleges, and institutions.

"As the Belt and Road Initiative continues to gain recognition and momentum, coupled with the increasing investments by Chinese companies in Türkiye, naturally, the interest in Chinese is on the rise," Mustafa Karsli, vice president of the association, told Xinhua.

In recent years, the association has increased its number of teachers from 12 to 24, doubling the original count.

"Still, it's not enough," Karsli said. "Due to the tonal nature of the Chinese language, which requires accurate pronunciation, it is essential to have qualified teachers with clear diction and accent who can teach it effectively."

As a result, Karsli said, there is a need for universities and Confucius Institutes to cultivate more well-prepared Chinese educators to cater to the growing enthusiasm for learning Chinese.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


Related Stories