Mandarin is no longer confined to just China, as it’s increasingly spoken all across the world. In the ‘Chinese is a World Language’ series, GoEast follows some native as well as foreign Mandarin speakers. This time, Morris Long (龙鳞 Lóng Lín), teacher of GoEast in Shanghai and online, who taught in Valdivia, Chile.
A few years ago, I taught my mother tongue, Chinese, to international students in Chile. I will admit it wasn’t my first choice to go there, because I’d never before heard about the faculty I was to teach at. It was my university that offered the chance to teach people all across the world, and only then did I discover this great benefit of this profession.
It was in 2016, the second year after graduating, that I passed the selection test to become an international volunteer Chinese teacher. While most other classmates choose neighboring countries South Korea or Thailand, I went to Chile practicing what I had been dedicated to for quite a few years.
Chile is said to be one of the furthest countries from China, so it’s not hard to guess why there weren’t actually that many Chinese people on the streets. I lived in Valdivia, a small – in Chinese terms – but a beautiful city in the south of the country, in which around 150,000 live.
The only place I could speak Chinese, apart from my class, was a grocery run by a Chinese couple. The students at the high school I was teaching were all locals aged from 15-17 years old. For some, Chinese was a compulsory course, but many had vocationally chosen Mandarin as their class.
Some of my students weren’t very motivated when it came to learning Chinese or, say, learning anything. So I tried to design my class not just as language learning, but as language gaming.
What’s to my surprise was that even though China is distant from Chile, and Valdivia is a small city, some youngsters here did have a very global mindset and realized that Chinese language is gaining more importance since China is gaining influence on the world — and some were even fans of Chinese popular bands like TF-Boys.
It was great to teach the students that were so strongly into my language and culture.
In Valdivia, a few high schools had just begun teaching Mandarin, as well as a university. In the rest of Chile, interest in the Chinese language is growing, going from nowhere to be seen as crucial — as Latin America is growing more intimate with China in this day and age.
Chinese is a world language series:
The gateway to the United states for people from China (Chinese is a World Language #1)