Songs, films to mark Chinese Language Week
A Chinese singing competition and free film festival are among activities to mark New Zealand Chinese Language Week at Massey University’s Auckland, Albany campus from October 16 to 22.
Massey’s School of Humanities is coordinating events with Chinese Language educators in Auckland to highlight the benefits of learning the language for New Zealanders – both Chinese and non-Chinese.
Singers in Chinese from schools and tertiary organisations around Auckland will take to the stage on October 19 to win over the judges in a competition hosted jointly by Massey University’s Chinese Language programme, JNU Chinese School of New Zealand and the Association of Chinese Language Educators.
Massey organiser for the week’s events, Dr Liangni Sally Liu, says participants are free to sing in any style of music – from traditional forms to Western or Chinese pop – as long as it is in Mandarin/Chinese language. Judges will base their decision on clear pronunciation, tunefulness and expressiveness. Reality television talent quests are a thing in China too, with versions of The Voice, China’s Got Talent and X Factor on screens in China since 2011.
Dr Liu hopes students and staff, as well as the local community, will attend the events for a taste of Chinese culture and to hear the language in use through song and cinematic art forms.
Chinese language films will screen at the Auckland, Albany campus library mini-theatre on Thursday, 19 October and Friday, 20 October (two each day between 1pm and 4pm) The films, provided by the Chinese Embassy, are The Bullet Vanishes (a 2012 Hong Kong-Chinese murder mystery); Mulan (a 1998 Disney animated musical drama based on the Chinese legend of a tomboy turned fearless warrior); Once upon A Time in China trilogy (1991 Hong Kong martial arts films); and The Grandmaster (2013 Hong Kong film set in the 1930s and based on the life story of close combat martial arts grandmaster Ip Man).
In a YouTube video about his experiences learning Chinese language, Massey student Shane Bidois says a love of Chinese cinema was one of the motivations for wanting to learn the language. He has been selected for a Prime Minister’s scholarship to study Chinese at Peking University later this year and to meet with local companies for business experience.
Mr Bidois, who works as a lawyer for MetService in Wellington, travelled to China for the first time in May this year on holiday, and says his knowledge helped him communicate with locals to ask for information and to order food. While there is a perception that learning Chinese is difficult, he says he has found learning to speak quite easy, but writing in Chinese is harder.
Chinese – the new world language
As well as Chinese language papers, Massey’s programme has introduced new papers (taught in English) on Chinese culture, society and politics. Topics include the Chinese Diaspora; China under Transformation: Economy, Society and Diplomacy; and Contemporary Chinese Society in Literature and Film.
“Our non-Chinese language papers in the Chinese Programme tackle the most recent issues about China as well as some hot-button issues globally,” says Dr Liu, who teaches the Chinese cultural papers.
Earlier this year, Massey launched a new partnership with Beijing Language and Culture University to develop an innovative online Chinese language programmes for learners across the Pacific region.
Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Massey’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, says the centre represents a shift towards Asia. “As we, the Western world, move into the 21st century, we are changing our attention from Western Europe to Asia. This is the Asian century.”
Chinese is, he said at the launch, “the new world language, and how it is learnt and understood in a more global and digital world is a significant issue.”
New Zealand Chinese Language Week was officially launched in 2014 and is celebrated in the second week of October each year to coincide with the Chinese Moon Festival.
Other activities planned for October 19 at Massey are a language and culture quiz, and the of launch of Flying Kiwis, a book of essays by New Zealand school students translated into Chinese, and edited by Labour Party MP Raymond Huo.