MAY 17-23, 2013
Most people from southern India’s Tamil Nadu state speak Tamil when they are children. Narayanaswamy Balakrishnan was fluent in a dialect spoken in Fujian, the southeastern province in China that saw its residents fan out outside the country for their livelihood.
February 04, 2013
Shiv Shankar Nayak, head of business development at the Chinese Institute of Chennai, says that Indians have traditionally studied European languages but now more and more Indians are interested in studying Chinese, as learning the language is more directly linked to job opportunities.
“Chennai has so many industries and we see a strong demand from IT, manufacturing, steel and telecom, infrastructure industry. For example, many Chinese engineers come here to installmachines in factories and they need to set up and explain how to use them to Indian workers. In that situation, they need Chinese interpreters and translators for documents,” he says. “Further, more Indian manufacturers and IT companies are making inroads to China and need to build business relations with China in high-tech engineering and software development.”
Business Line, January 02, 2013
January 10, 2013
There is also a huge demand for students who know Chinese, (or Mandarin to give it its correct name) says Shiv Shankar, business development head of a Chinese institute in Chennai. "It is because an increasing number of Chinese companies are setting up base in Chennai," he adds.
Learning a foreign language, however, is no cakewalk. Students have to work really hard to truly specialise in a language, and since it is more of a horizontal portable skill, you need to develop an additional vertical skill (in IT, finance, operations, retail, etc.) in order to move ahead."
BEIJING, January 17, 2013
Zhao Jiang's first Tamil book makes debut at on-going Chennai Book Fair
For Zhao Jiang, who prefers to go by her Tamil name Kalaimakal, writing a book in Tamil would have seemed unthinkable when she first began learning what appeared to be an undecipherable script in a Chinese university classroom some 15 years ago. Today, as a fluent Tamil-speaker and the director of the government-run China Radio International's (CRI) Tamil station, which commands an impressive audience of more than 25,000 dedicated listeners in Tamil Nadu alone, Ms. Zhao has taken it upon herself to foster closer ties between China and southern India, a usually overlooked destination for Chinese travellers.
This week, Ms. Zhao's first book in Tamil — which, as far as she knows, might even be the first ever Tamil book authored by a Chinese — will debut at the ongoing Chennai Book Fair, which runs until January 23 at the YMCA College Ground in Nandanam. The book will be available at the stall of publishers Gowtham Pathippagam. Titled China's Travel Attractions, the book provides an introduction of the history and culture of Beijing, Shanghai and Tibet. "The idea I had was to introduce the special features of China for a Tamil audience," Ms. Zhao told The Hindu in an interview.
Her inspiration, she said, came from the listeners of CRI, who sent in thousands of letters wanting to know more about travelling in China. CRI's Tamil station receives as many as five lakh letters every year — more than any other of the station's 60 international channels — from listeners in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and Europe.
The book, Ms. Zhao says, introduces the changes the Chinese capital has seen in its recent history, from its thriving new 798 art district to its modern subway system. It also provides an introduction to China's most famous historical sites. The book includes sections on Shanghai's architecture and a guide to travelling in Tibet, written with an Indian audience in mind.
Ms. Zhao has been a broadcaster with CRI for 13 years, joining the channel after completing her undergraduate degree in Tamil at the Communications University of China. The university is the only school in Beijing that teaches Tamil; it caters largely to the hiring needs of CRI and the official Xinhua news agency. Ms. Zhao, who has travelled extensively in Tamil Nadu in 2003 and 2004 on trips aimed at engaging with CRI's more than 500 listeners' clubs, now plans to spend a year studying in Tamil Nadu. She is also considering writing a book, based on her upcoming travels in India, to introduce south India to Chinese travellers, who usually only head to New Delhi or Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the north.
"After the success of the film 'Life of Pi' in China [parts of which were shot in Puducherry], there is an increasing interest in south India among Chinese," Ms. Zhao said.
H. Shrithula has a useful analogy for those who think that learning Chinese is difficult: “Chinese is similar to Tamil. If you know Tamil, it’s easy to learn Chinese.”
The Arsha Vidya Mandir student started learning Chinese to gain an insight into the culture of that country, a glimpse of which she has already had. The 15-year-old recalls her visit to China during the 2008 Olympics: “When we had to go to a particular place in Beijing, we could not communicate at all.” She hopes learning a language which is spoken by very few Indians will give her a head start over her peers.
“Students hear about slowdown in the U.S. and stagnation in Europe, and at the same time about Chinese economy growing. They see a lot of Chinese products around them. So they want to learn Chinese”, says Mr. N. Balakrishnan, director, Chinese Institute of Chennai. The trend of college students learning Chinese is picking up, he says.
Chinese Institute of Chennai (CIC), which pioneered the teaching of Mandarin in Chennai using up to date teaching materials, has now signed an agreement with IGNOU, which is the largest university in India in terms of student numbers, to teach Chinese using virtual technology all over India. By doing this CIC hopes to expand its Chinese teaching nationwide and reach the whole country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
China is now the largest trading partner of India and has overtaken the US for a few years now but hardly any Indians speak Chinese which is hampering the efforts of Indian companies and Indian professionals to sell to China or even to make visits there since English is not widely spoken in China.
The tremendous need for Chinese instruction in India has not been even partially met because many of the educational institutions of India, both private and public lack the teachers and facilities to teach Chinese. Chinese Institute of Chennai entered this field two years ago and now operates two centers in Chennai and Bangalore.
In order to speed up the spread of Chinese teaching nationwide and also to reach the masses of India, CIC signed an MOU with IGNOU, which specializes in teaching the masses of India who have difficulty in enrolling in traditional institutions because of cost, distance and other factors. IGNOU is a pioneer in the use of using virtual technology and satellites to reach even the remotest corners of India. CIC and IGNOU have now joined forces to bring Chinese language to the masses of India so that they can benefit by learning the language of the rising super power – China.
The MOU between the two institutions, The Indira Gandhi National Open University’s (IGNOU’s) School of Foreign Langauge (SOFL) to undertake online virtual programmes in Chinese language was signed on October 12 in New Delhi at the premises of IGNOU.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), both the institutes, the CIC and IGNOU, have agreed to work together in offering (A) a six- month certificate course And (B) a twelve-month diploma course in Online Chinese language and culture.
One of the main objectives of this programme is to reach learners all over India through internet. Through this method, a virtual classroom will be created by which learners can interact with teachers and vice-versa.
"This is for the first time in India that an online virtual classroom programme to learn Chinese language is being offered. One of the main features of this programme is to reach learners at any part of India through its mode. The e-Gyankosh of IGNOU will be the conduit to offer this virtual classroom programme which is different from the online programmes of IGNOU.
Through this mode, learners and teachers will be able to talk to each other and learn virtually as it is done within the four walls of traditional teaching/ learning method," said Mr. Shiv Shankar Nayak, who is the Marketing Director of CIC based in Chennai.
The Chairman of CIC, based in Chennai, Mr. N. Balakrishnan said that, “I am very pleased and happy that we are now embarking on a course to bring the knowledge of Chinese to the masses of India. The future of the not just China and India but even Asia and the world will be determined by the way these two populous nations of the world progress over the next few decades. By learning Chinese, Indians will not only be able to do business and visit China but also be in position to sell to China and engage in mutually beneficial cultural and business activities."
For more information about this exciting project to promote understanding between the giant nations of Asia, please contact, Mr. Shiv Shankar at +91-044-43335552 / 24717876.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Understand China's growth story before venturing there
Mr. Balakrishnan (left), NRI based in Hongkong speaking
to the participants on economic scenario of China.
On his right is Mr. Unni Krishnan, Director, FIEO (SR).
For the benefit of members who have joined the Federation, FIEO (Southern Region) organized a talk on Economic Conditions and CommonTrading in China and Hong Kong on February 14, 2011. The meeting was attended by more than 25 member exporters.
The progamme was addressed by Mr N. Balakrishnan, an NRI based in Hong Kong. Mr Balakrishnan, who is widely travelled and has over 25 years experience working in China and Hong Kong, highlighted the potential of China as a major trading partner for India.
A Mandarin class in progress at an institute in Ashok Nagar.
Chayan Majumder, 30, a Chennai-based entrepreneur, still recalls the difficulty encountered by him during his first visit to China, where he often travels as part of an import-export garment business he runs.
"I had a tough time during my early visits as it was difficult to describe small things or even ask for directions to a place or a restaurant. Everything is written and spoken in Chinese," he says.
Now, for over a month, Mr. Majumder has joined five others businessmen at a language school here to learn the basics of Mandarin. The businessman, who is well-versed in English, Tamil, Hindi and Bengali, is confident that knowing this foreign language will help him do better trade.
With increasing people-to-people contact between India and China, and growing interest in Chinese culture, more and more people are now learning Chinese.
Chinese language education in Chennai is seeing a mini boom. "Enquiries for our Chinese language courses have doubled since our inception last year," says Sudha Mythili, Business Development Executive of the Chinese Institute of Chennai.
The first and only language institute in the city to specialise in Chinese language education, the Chinese Institute of Chennai offers two courses, a basic-level spoken Chinese course, and an advanced-level Chinese character writing course. Taught by Indian instructors who have been trained in China, the basic course costs Rs. 8000 and runs over 30 hours. Students who have enrolled in the basic course are mainly working professionals in their 30s, but exceptions include an 8th standard boy and a 76-year old man. In time to come, the institute intends to expand its service offerings to include business consulting for Indian enterprises interested in tapping the China market.
The director of the institute, N. Balakrishnan, says he "saw a commercial opportunity in providing Chinese language training when China overtook the USA as India's largest trading partner." As a result of globalisation and economic liberalisation, people-to-people contact between the two countries have increased. S.P. Venkata Nagarajan, 49, attests to this.
The entrepreneur enrolled in a basic course at the institute after his interest in China was piqued by his son, who is pursuing undergraduate studies at the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Commenting on the new economic world order, Mr. Nagarajan says, "The two economies (of India and China) will grow in a big way, and my son, with his Chinese contacts and his understanding of the Chinese culture and language, will have a good role to play."
China's rise as an economic power, as well as greater interest in Chinese culture, is prompting increasing interest in learning the Chinese language. Indeed, as Liu Nan, press attache of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, notes, the number of Indian students in China has risen steadily, from roughly 1,000 in 2006, to slightly under 7,000 in 2008, and to 11,000 this year.
He attributes the increasing trend to a series of agreements and MoUs inked between the two countries in 2005, which eased the visa process for Indian students. Other reasons include the relative affordability of a Chinese tertiary education and the increasing number of English-medium courses offered by Chinese universities. For more information about the Chinese Institute of Chennai, contact 044-43335552 / 24717876.
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Chinese to be introduced in CBSE, says Kapil Sibal 15 Sep 2010
Indian school students will soon begin learning Chinese in large numbers as it will soon be introduced in the CBSE curriculum, Human Resources Minister, Kapil Sibal said Wednesday after discussing with China's Education Minister Yuan Guiren the modalities of training Indian teachers for the task.
(This feature article, about a Chinese-origin man in Mangalore who is now learning Chinese – from an Indian tutor in Bangalore – in order to connect with his extended family in China, was published in DNA edition dated October 17, 2010. I loved writing this story at many levels: the intense drama in Mr Eugene Lee’s life, and what it says about language as a bridge across cultures.)
Eugene Lee, a Chinese-Indian, is learning the language of his
Chinese fataher - from an Indian tutor in Bangalore.
For four weekends last month, Eugene Lee, 46, a Mangalore-based, ethnic Chinese restaurant owner, joined a handful of Indians at a language school in Bangalore and grappled with the tonal complexities of the Chinese language.
For Lee, who speaks fluent Kannada, Konkani and Hindi (besides English), proficiency in Chinese will come with an emotionally stirring reward that relates to his mixed heritage – his late father was Chinese, his mother was Mangalorean. Learning Chinese, he hopes, will open the door to reconnecting with a side of his father’s family in China, which was hidden
behind a bamboo curtain until three years ago, when a visitor from a faraway land unveiled the mystery.
“Three years ago I learnt for the first time that my father, who had come to India from China in the 1930s as a circus artist and married my Mangalorean mother, had children from an earlier marriage in China,” Lee told DNA. “I showed a visitor from China the letters in Chinese that my father used to receive until he died, but which I could never read because I didn’t know the language, and he translated them for me.”
Stunned by the secret laid bare by the letters, which pointed to the presence of an extended paternal family in China, Lee traced, with help from associates in China, his father’s Chinese children from that other marriage. And in 2007, Lee even travelled to Hebei province in northern China to meet his one surviving step-brother – a 77-year-old – and several of his father’s grandchildren from that branch of the family tree.
“They were very happy to see me,” recalls Lee, “but I had one overwhelming regret: that I couldn’t speak any Chinese, which was the only language they knew!”
To overcome that linguistic lacuna, Lee enrolled last month for the 40-hour beginner Chinese course offered by the Bangalore chapter of the Chinese Institute of Chennai. He travelled every weekend from Mangalore to Bangalore, and thanks to the strenuous efforts of his tutor Arun Gorur, Lee says he can speak “a smattering of Chinese”. He now hopes to build on that by enrolling for the advanced course, where he will also learn Chinese characters, the building blocks for reading and writing in the language.
Mr.N.Balakrishnan, founder of the Chinese Institute of Chennai.
“I’m planning to travel to China next year to meet my father’s extended family again,” says Lee. And brimming with confidence, the ‘Chindian’ says he hopes to be able to speak to them in Chinese, learnt from an Indian in Bangalore! Lee’s 17-year-old son also plans to enrol for a hotel management course in China, and bring back authentic Chinese cuisine recipes that he can introduce in the family’s chain of Xin Lai Chinese restaurants in Mangalore.Gorur, who lived and worked in southern China for three years from 2002, says it was a “rare privilege to teach the Chinese language to a person of
Chinese origin in India!” And the fact that his tutorial efforts will help Lee make an emotional reunion with his extended family in China made it doubly special, he adds.
Chinese Institute of Chennai founder N. Balakrishnan says that the intersection of his institute’s path and Lee’s life story validated, in a sense, his endeavour to see Chinese language education as a bridge between India and China. Given the prophesied economic rise of both the countries, it was important for people from the neighbouring countries to understand each other.
“If we are now teaching Chinese even to Chinese-origin people in India, perhaps we are on the right path!” adds Balakrishnan.Read More...