Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Vietnamese students come here to polish their Portuguese

Posted by Kimberly on July 3, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
July 03, 2007, page 2 (733 words)


The University of Macau’s annual Summer Program of Portuguese Language and Culture had its  official opening ceremony last night.
Held at the university’s STDM Auditorium, it was introduced by Professor Maria Antonia Espadinha, Director of the Department of Portuguese at the University.
The program is in collaboration with the Macau Education and Youth Affairs Bureau [DSEJ].
Professor Espadinha said that the number of students accepted for the course has remained the same as last year, although she noted a rise in applications from Vietnamese students this year.
While the exact number of students was not stated, Professor Espadinha said that the reasons behind the rise were most likely two-fold; that while Vietnam had a Bachelor’s degree in Portuguese, there weren’t enough native speakers to teach the language.
It was important for students to come to Macau and have contact with native teachers.
Secondly, because it is encouraging the commerce between Vietnam and Portuguese-speaking countries and this increases the need for translators.
Professor Espadinha also said that an academy was set up over the course of two weeks, to cater specifically for students who will arrive in Macau to study its heritage without studying the language.
She said that while many local students had show interest in attending the program, the quota for them was very limited due to the belief that their ability to interact locally with Portuguese-speaking people was an advantage other students did not possess.
The program has been offered by the university since 1986, and this year about 400 applications were sent in for the program, most of them from China.
Two of the students, Li Qiong Jiu and Chen Sibei, spoke to the Macau Daily Times about their reasons for undertaking the course.
“I am learning Portuguese in university in Shanghai and it’s a good opportunity for me to get in contact with people who are now learning Portuguese and who are from different countries and want to know other’s peoples standards. I want to improve mine,” said Miss Li.
Miss Chen agreed saying that in Macau, she can learn much about the Portuguese culture and environment.
Asked whether either believed Portuguese was an easier language to learn than Chinese, their answers differed.
“No [it’s not easier than Chinese]. I think maybe for some beginners the language is very easy to spell and pronounce but grammar is quite complex.
“We have to work harder. Anyway it is quite different form Chinese and we just need to do better,” said Miss Li.
“I think it’s more easy,” said Miss Chen.
“Because China has a very long culture and we have to know a lot about China, about the culture. But Portuguese is from nothing and it’s more easier I think,” she said.
Both have been studying the language for about nine months and will be majoring in Portuguese when they enter university.
“We want to find some job using Portuguese and we want to help the Portuguese to learn Chinese, to communicate,” said Miss Li.
Asked why they decided to study it, Miss Li said that their school in Shanghai was a foreign language senior school.
“It’s much more easier for us to enter in some university if we major in languages,” she said.
“For example, we are wanting to go to Shanghai International Studies University and it is quite good at languages.
“Our senior school can make us enter this university without the National College Entrance Examination [NCEE], because the NCEE is quite difficult,” she said.
Asked to explain this, Miss Li said that should they obtain the required marks from their schooling, they will be able to enter the university without needing to sit the NCEE exam.
The classes will take place Monday to Friday for four hours in the morning with cultural activities to be arranged twice a week including visits to museums, Macau’s historical heritage sites, traditional Portuguese dance acts and artistic development. The weekends will be left for students’ leisure time.
About 270 students will be coming from the Mainland, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia as well as Macau.
They will be distributed into ten sections and four levels of expertise; beginners, basic, intermediate and advanced.
Unfortunately, the interest only seems to be focused on the language.
Professor Espadinha said that only a number of students were interested in the culture but not many of them, although she chose not to comment on this.


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