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Kiwis urged to give Chinese ‘a go’ for Chinese Language Week

15 Oct 2017

Kiwis urged to give Chinese ‘a go’ for NZ Chinese Language Week
Monday 16 October 2017

A week of fun activities and events kick off today (Monday 16 October) for the first day of New Zealand Chinese Language Week (NZCLW).

A Kiwi-driven initiative, the week (16-22 October), now in its third year, aims to raise awareness of the need for greater understanding of culture and language between New Zealand and China – our largest trading partner.

While 84 per cent of Kiwis in an Asia New Zealand Foundation Survey* thought it important for New Zealand to develop cultural and economic ties with Asia, only 35 per cent said they knew ‘a fair amount’ or ‘a lot’ about Asia, a number that has barely increased since the survey began in 2013.

A similar number – eight in ten – thought school children should learn another language, and 53 per cent of those thought it should be Chinese.

This contrasts starkly with the number of Year 12 and 13 students actually learning Chinese – which stood at 13 per cent in 2016. **

That’s why the NZCLW Trust is encouraging all kiwis to take part in the "5 days, 5 phrases" challenge. Its objective is to get New Zealanders to give Chinese a go and encourage friends and colleagues to take up the challenge. Information on joining the challenge – learning 5 phrases, recording a video and uploading to social media, and challenging your friends and family to take part - can be found here.
“Just learning five simple phrases can make such a difference when engaging with another culture,” Co-Chair Jo Coughlan said.

“Given China is our largest trading partner, our largest source of international students and second largest source of tourists it makes sense for us to familiarise ourselves with Chinese language and culture,” she said.

“With a focus on Chinese Language for just one week – hopefully kiwis can get on board and learn a few simple phrases to get them started.
“The momentum for learning Chinese is growing in New Zealand but there is still a perception it’s hard. At the very least we should be able to say hello!”

Highlights of the week
· Take part in the ‘5 days, 5 phrases’ challenge and upload a video
· Listen out for broadcasters undertaking the 5 days 5 phrases challenge
· Watch out for the Chinese-themed quiz on Air New Zealand domestic flights
· Check out the NZCLW Facebook page and website for videos and online resources
· Join one of the regional activities taking place across New Zealand

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The benefits of learning Chinese
Wellington project manager Andrew Revolta, originally from the UK, used his Mandarin language expertise to get a job at Weta Workshop. Revolta secured work as a translator on set in Qingdao for the film The Great Wall with Matt Damon. As a translator for the weapons department Revolta met the Weta Workshop team and he secured a job with them back in New Zealand. Revolta plays a key role for Weta liaising with clients in China including work on a major exhibition currently showing in Shanghai. Andrew says: ‘I think there will be more and more people who can speak English and Chinese – it’ll be more commonplace for people to be bilingual. I think the number of international projects and cross-cultural projects will increase.” [Andrew's You Tube interview]

Lyra Ashwood, 18, a former pupil at Marsden College in Wellington, began learning Mandarin when she was 10. She says: “There wasn’t one specific profound reason in mind. It was just very interesting, very fun, and at the time I had a lot of Chinese friends and I was very keen to learn more about them, their language and the culture.” Lyra says learning Mandarin opened up a whole new perspective and a way of looking at the world, plus opportunities to go overseas and experience another lifestyle. She is currently in her first year of university in China. [Lyra's You Tube interview].
Shane Bidois, a lawyer at MetService, Wellington, is learning Chinese language at Massey University and was selected for the Prime Minister’s scholarship to study Chinese at Peking University later this year and to meet with local companies for business experience. It was Shane's love of Chinese cinema that first got him into learning the language. [Shane's You Tube interview].

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