Asia have grown to be a force in terms of its market size and its human resources. As at 2008 the world population was estimated at about 6.8billoin, out of this about a billion or more speak Chinese. Therefore with such a potential market and recent economic growth, the Chinese language has become an added advantage in ones CV (curriculum vita).

Taiwan, the little Formosa Island located in East Asia provides a good environment for learning this very important language. Taiwan is a democratic country, with a high standard of education, and one of the four Asian Tigers, the highly developed economies in East Asia includeing Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. These regions were the first newly industrialized countries, noted for maintaining exceptionally high growth rates and rapid industrialization between the early 1960s and 1990s.

As foreign students studying in Taiwan, we are given one of the greatest opportunities to study Chinese language from native speakers. This is an opportunity rarely available to our colleagues studying in other parts of the world especially in third world countries like the Gambia where I came from or even in Europe or America. As an ex-classmate of mine put it “Being served a delouse food on a golden platter.”

The TaiwanICDF scholarship is for higher education from undergraduate level to postgraduate level. Almost every scholarship holder is an expert in their field of studies and is familiar in all the subject area expect the Chinese language class. Can one imagine the first Chinese class in your life? To most foreign students we cannot even indentify the local students. They all look the same. How on earth can we indentify the words all sounds the same to us.

In my first Chinese class, we had not many people from the east but abundant people from the west, north and south. People of all ages but never having experience in learning Chinese language were seated in one class. While some of us call it laughing class the school calls it EL171A. We are taught like kindergarden students how to pronounce basic Chinese words and how to read and write. However most of the TaiwanICDF students are master students who are here in Taiwan just for a period of two years. It is a very short time for studying Chinese. Most of them are busy with their research work. At my university only 2 hours of Chinese is offered to us which is very insufficient. By the time we start to pick up the language it is about time for us to go back to our various countries. And most of us will have no one to practice with once we leave Taiwan. This actually means that it is most likely that we will forget all we learn about this important language and the next time we have such an opportunity we will have to start it all over again.

However despite some of the above short comings, for me it is a good experience studying Chinese that I will forever treasure.

 Studying Chinese at Yuan Ze University
Alfred G. Belford
Yuan Ze University

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