Learning Chinese in Lebanon has become easier with the courses available.
Whether a Mulan comic fan or Jackie Chan’s cheering admirer, Chinese culture has accompanied our Lebanese community. Today, Lebanon’s bilateral relations with China have expanded beyond the point of fandom. In fact, learning the Chinese language in Lebanon is a highly admired trend by many people. The ancient thinker and educator Confucius has advised learners not to complicate things but instead learn the Chinese language step by step. Confucius is a well-renowned Chinese teacher and philosopher who emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. He was accredited for his writings about values in life. His famous quote, “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself” - grew on to develop into Confucianism.
One hundred fifty Lebanese students adopted the inspirational method of Confucius’ when learning one of the most intriguing languages in the world. They are not only challenging their capabilities but also marching on an unexpected journey.
Where can curious learners attend Chinese courses and what are the benefits of learning Chinese in Lebanon?
I have been studying the Chinese language for a year now at the Confucius Institute of Saint Joseph University (USJ) in Beirut. With the help of laoshimen, or professors, a whole new world was opening its doors to me. After being warned of the difficulty of this language, I decided to “climb The Great Wall” in the end.
Courses are divided on seven levels, branching into four sub-levels each, making every step of the way detailed and meticulous.
At a more advanced stage, students can represent Lebanon in China at an international competition which is organized by the Han Ban institute that is associated with Confucius.
This was the case for Loree Vartanian and I who participated in an exchange scholarship program in cooperation with Shenyang Normal University, located in Shenyang city. The criterion was to pass the HSK 2 exam grading our Chinese comprehension levels. “The land of chopsticks turned out to be a stupefying and enriching country” said Vartanian, who had been studying Chinese at USJ. “I took it as an elective course during the three years of my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, and it has rewarded me with a beneficial journey.”
For those who would like to have a deeper involvement as well, a new cooperation with the Lebanese University helps in learning the Chinese Language. In fact, a bachelor in Chinese at the Center for Languages and Translation is celebrating its first Academic year since October 2015. “One of the six official languages of the United Nations is now presented in the curriculum of students” said Nisrine Moussaileb, having mastered the other five languages during her bachelor degree in translation at USJ.
Going to China was by far the most exciting experience I’ve ever had. Not only did I get to experience Chinese culture firsthand, I also ended up making new amazing friends that I still talk to.
Anyone can book a hotel, get on a plane and go sightseeing, but staying in a Chinese university, learning the language, and taking different cultural classes like paper cutting and Chinese calligraphy, has definitely given a whole new meaning to the word “travel” for me. I learned to appreciate all the cultural aspects that remained throughout the centuries: Tea ceremonies, practicing Tai Chi Chuan in the morning, a Chinese martial art practiced for defense trainings but also for health benefits. I used to glance early-comers who trained together with slow movements in order to gain longevity. Tai Chi is known to be an art applied with internal power; it could be practiced by anyone, anytime. I also visited breathtaking parks and crowded bars at night, all of which I got to see throughout my stay in China.
Learning Chinese language has proven to be a difficult task. Nevertheless, when quickly accessing it, one can easily recognize the ching from the chong, in other terms one can start to be be familiar with the four intonations of the Chinese language, and thus be aware of a large lexicon of words. For example, ma and ma can look like the same characters (in simplified Chinese), but when pronounced with the right intonations, ma and ma would have different meanings; they mean mother and horse respectively. Lebanese student are enthusiastic to register for Chinese courses, not only to contribute to their personal development but also to represent Lebanon in their journeys abroad.