The Business Confucius Institute has guided two University of Leeds students to success in the 18th ‘Chinese Bridge’ Language Proficiency Competition.
Business Confucius Institute teachers worked closely with third year East Asian Studies students Ahmad Elmouniery (谢炫明) and James Holmes (家松) to prepare them for the competition and are delighted that they secured first and second prize. The Grand Prize went to Gregor Bauer from SOAS, University of London.
Winning first prize qualifies Ahmad to compete in the international televised finals in China this summer, and has boosted his confidence in his Chinese language abilities:
It hasn’t sunk in that I won first prize: being encouraged to participate by Meng Laoshi was a shock in itself as I didn’t think my Chinese was that good! But having taken part in the competition and seeing the fruits of all the hard work I had put in, along with meeting other Chinese learners from other universities, has only inspired me to continue working harder on my Chinese.
In addition to his second prize, which means he is invited to China to watch the finals, James won ‘Most Eloquent Prize’, ‘Most Popular Contestant of the Night’, and ‘2019 Ambassador of Chinese Tourism Promotion in the UK’. He said:
The competition was very exciting and it was great to meet the other contestants. Even though I didn’t progress to the next round, I got a great result and even won £300! I would recommend Chinese Bridge to anyone who likes performing and wants to spend more time on Chinese.
The Chinese Bridge competition consists of three rounds; a speech, a performance, and general knowledge questions about Chinese language and culture.
Ahmad’s speech “我的中国情，了咋嘞” described his experience of eating Biangbiang noodles in China and attempting to recreate the dish back at home in England. ‘Biang’ is the one of the most complex Chinese characters in modern usage, so Ahmad ended by showing how to write the character while reciting a mnemonic used to remember the 42 strokes. Visit Wikipedia for a description of Biangbiang noodles and to see just how complex the character is!
In his performance he played both characters in a scene from the famous Chinese play 雷雨 (Léiyǔ – thunderstorm) by playwright Cao Yu. The scene was an argument between Zhou Ping and his stepmother Fanyi, with whom he was having an affair. Learn more about the play and its complex plot on Wikipedia.
For his speech “学习成语，知古鉴今” (Studying chengyu: knowledge of the past and a reflection of the present) James shared his experiences of learning chengyu and told stories about the funny mistakes he has made. Chengyu are idioms, usually consisting of four characters. Most originate from classical Chinese and the many layers of meaning wrapped up in these short phrases make them difficult for students to grasp.
James performed the rap song 在梅边 (Zài Méi Biān) by Leehom Wang in its entirety, including the final part when the rapping builds to a frenetic pace! This song is about famous Chinese opera ‘The Peony Pavillion’ (牡丹亭, Mǔdān tíng).
A bridge to opportunities
The Chinese Bridge competition is an excellent opportunity for participants to network and access career opportunities. A career fair took place alongside the UK finals in London to bring together Mandarin speaking students and UK-based Chinese companies, and this opened Ahmad’s eyes to the opportunities available for Mandarin speakers:
I knew I wanted to do something China-related post-uni but I had always worried that opportunities would be few, seeing as so many Chinese people speak English as well, but the job fair proved that was absolutely not the case!
Contestants in the UK finals are also able to participate in an International Exchange Camp in Chengdu and Chongqing this summer.
If you are studying Chinese and may be interested in taking part in the Chinese Bridge Competition we would love to hear from you. Find more details on the Chinese Bridge page and fill in the form if you would like to register your interest.
Read our Chinese news report about the competition published on the UIBE WeChat account.