Interview: Learning Chinese "opens doors": Spanish linguist

  • World
  • Sunday, 21 Apr 2024

MADRID, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Through classes where he applies theatre techniques and cultural activities, Modesto Corderi, who teaches Chinese in a northwestern Spanish city, intends to send a message with passion that learning Chinese "opens doors."

"When it comes to teaching the language, we try to make it very practical so people can see that studying Chinese opens doors," Corderi, a professor at the Public Language School in the city of Coruna, said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

To mark the United Nations Chinese Language Day, which falls on April 20, he was invited by UN headquarters to give a virtual conference on the use of theater to teach Chinese as a foreign language for adults.

Corderi, who graduated from Beijing Language and Culture University, emphasized that theater helps students "to memorize, practice, have fun and use the language."

At the beginner level, for example, he plays what he calls "the airport game," where students become occasional travelers, while at more advanced levels, the classroom is transformed into a casting in a Chinese Didi's ride-sharing service or even for a movie.

"By giving them a role, the students talk a lot more," said Corderi.

Corderi's way of teaching emerged in 2007 in Beijing, when a friend took him to see a comedy theater in hutongs or traditional alleys in the Chinese capital.

"There I discovered a Chinese theater company that improvised games based on suggestions from the audience and I thought it would be a good resource for teaching languages," he recalled.

As for his students, he joked, "it's a fruit salad," from teenagers to retired people in their 70s, and all of them, he added, are "enthusiastic" with the visa-free policy applied by China on a trial basis for ordinary passport holders from Spain and other European countries.

"They are already thinking about going to China, and we have made presentations in classes about various Chinese regions. I think the number of visits will increase, in fact it is already increasing. I hope it continues and that we also open our hands here," he said.

He himself is planning to go for a week or two this summer to visit "a lot of friends there that I haven't seen in a while."

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