International sports events ignite fever for English-learning in Jinjiang
Sushank, an Indian researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, speaks during a group discussion at an English corner at the Yuntai book store in Jinjiang, Fujian Province on June 12, 2018. [Photo: China plus/Li Chaohui JICA]
English fever is sweeping through Jinjiang in China's southwest Fujian Province after the city won several bids to host a series of international sports events.
Many local residents have started taking part in English language classes and book reading groups at local bookstores and cafés.
Every Friday night, dozens of residents here in Jinjiang gather at the Yuntai book store to take part in courses, games, and book club that aim to entain and at the same time help the visitors to improve their English.
Sushank, an Indian researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, speaks with CRI’s reporter during an interview at the Yuntai book store in Jinjiang, Fujian Province on June 12, 2018. [Photo: China plus/Li Chaohui JICA]
Sushank is a researcher who came to Jinjiang City from India to work with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
But today he's working as a teacher during an English corner at the Yuntai book store.
"I found the city is very nice then. Somebody introduced me to the GC (English corner). This GC is to let people interact with each other so that foreigners can interact with local people and know about what is the local culture. The impression is really nice and I found the city is amazing ,people are amazing and very friendly here. It's nice,” Sushank said.
Sushank said he gets along well with his students, who he considers his friends.
"They are not students. I'm not teacher here . We're discussing things like friends. We are sharing views with each other, so that local people can also know what's going outside, what's going on all around China and how the people like from other countries? They are curious. When I mentioned I am from India. They have so many questions, first of all movies, India movies are popular here. They ask me 'Sushank, are you dance? I told them not everyone in India can dance. Then yoga is like for exercise, they would ask 'do you do yoga everyday'? I said no come on I don't do yoga."
Chen Ling, an official with the municipal government, speaks with CRI's reporter at the Yuntai book store in Jinjiang, Fujian Province on June 12, 2018. [Photo: China plus/Li Chaohui JICA]
Chen Ling a senior official with the municipal government is working on promoting the language learning programs in the city.
Chen has helped organized a team of talented young volunteers from different professions to organize education activities including language training to serve local communities.
She noted that Jinjiang has won the bid to host a series of international sports events, including the International School Sport Federation Gymnasiade 2020 and the FISU University World Cup Football tournament.
"We want to launch these language programs so we're well prepared to host the upcoming international sports events. Meanwhile, last year thea government rolled out a plan to turn Jinjiang into an open and innovative city. These activities will help Jinjiang residents to learn more languages, and also help them improve their communication skills and open their eyes to the world,” Chen Ling added, hoping that the language programs that are on offer in the city could help residents to expand their horizons on the world.
People visit the 20th Jinjiang Footwear & the 3rd Sports Industry International Exposition in Jinjiang, southeast China's Fujian Province, April 19, 2018. Exhibitors from more than 70 countries and regions took part in the expo. [Photo: Xinhua]
Jinjiang is transforming from a major center for sports equipment manufacturing into a venue for international sports events. As Chen Ling points out, language learning is an important part.
“We are promoting a three-language plan that includes English, Mandarin, and theSouthern Fujian dialect. Jinjiang is an open and inclusive city with many cultures. We have a large number of newcomers in the city, they even outnumber the local people here. We hope they can learn a bit more about the Fujian dialect, which will help them to better understand the culture as well as help them to blend in with their surroundings. Meanwhile, the local residents, especially senior citizens, can have an opportunity to learn Mandarin."
Cai Pengcheng (R) a staff member with a local sports industry office in Jinjiang talks with his partners during a group discussion at an English corner at the Yuntai book store in Jinjiang, Fujian Province on June 12, 2018. [Photo: China plus/JICA]
Cai Pengcheng is a staff member with local sports industry office. Tonight he's serving as a volunteer at the English corner.
"On one hand, I could know more people though participating into such activities and make new friends and expand my social network. I talk with new friends and get some inspiring ideas which help me to think outside the box and expand my vision on life."
And Cai Yongren, a high school student, comes with his friends because he likes the informal atmosphere, and enjoys learning while also having fun.
"I just passed my college entrance examination and came here with my friend Sophie. This is not the first time I've taken part in activities like this. I came here to practice English and also make friends. I come here regularly and I think it's always good to have more skills."
Wu Weiping has been a regular here since 2010. The 65-year-old said it helps her keep a positive mindset and live an inspring and fulfilling life in her retirement .
"After I finished high school, I stopped my education and went to work in the countryside in the 1960s. It's a pity that I lost the chance to have a good education when I was young. But after my son went to college, I finally had the time to pick up English lessons and join in with the students here. I've also brought my friends here. I feel really happy to be part of this. And my son is now at Harvard University. If I could learn more English, I could go to America on my own to meet him,” Wu said.
The English Corner was started by some fans of English and some Americans living in the city back in 2010. As the city became more open and local business boomed, more people started taking part.