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September 2010 issue

Contents
News
Agency News
Agency Survey
Feedback
Market Report
Direction I
Direction II
Special Report
Course Guide
Spotlight
Destination
City Focus
Status

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Beijing’s rising sun

As the political, economic, cultural and educational hub of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing is an exciting juxtaposition of old traditions and new-age thinking. Nicola Hancox takes a tour of this ancient citadel.

The Chinese capital needs little in the way of introduction. The gateway to historical attractions such as the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, its revamp in the run up to the 2008 Olympic Games has given Beijing a modern spin to rival Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The city has distinct advantages over other language learning destinations in China, however, says Ryan Quimby-Jones, Business and Development Manager at local language school Mandarin House. “Students that go to Beijing are typically interested in the culture, politics and rich history of China,” and he adds that the local dialect, Beijınghuà, is the standard, and most recognised form of Mandarin. Considered simpler and easier to understand, “This aspect is very important to students that really want to apply their lessons outside of the classroom. Most people outside of the classroom will use the standard dialect where other cities this may not be the case,” he reflects.

Being a student in a foreign city can be a daunting experience but Quimby-Jones reflects that the locals are a kind and welcoming people, and if anything are just as curious about students as students are of them. He says, “It is not uncommon for foreigners to feel extra attention on them when walking down Wangfujing [a pedestrian only street]. Right next to the Forbidden Palace you can expect to feel like a celebrity fleeing from the paparazzi! A small group will gather around taking pictures while kids will try their English skills and [students] will try their Mandarin skills on them.”

Full of tourist attractions, Beijing is never short of international visitors and students can and should join the crowds to explore the Forbidden City – the world’s largest imperial palace. Surrounded by a six-metre deep moat and protected by a 10-metre high wall – fortified using glutinous rice and egg whites – this architectural feat was off limits to the common man for over 500 years. With 720,000 square foot to cover, Wendy Zhang from East West Connection recommends students take a long stroll around the adjoining lakes that formed part of the Emperor’s vast gardens. Collectively known as Shichahai, the three lakes are situated just a mile north of the Forbidden City’s expansive grounds and are conveniently surrounded by restaurants and bars, notes Zhang. Students can also hire rowing boats to enjoy the picturesque setting.

Beyond the other obvious World Heritage listed sites; the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace and the Great Wall, Quimby-Jones suggests first-time visitors familiarise themselves with the city layout which consists of quaint little courtyards and narrow streets and alleyways known as Hutong. This unique part of Chinese cultural history is perhaps best enjoyed by bicycle, although students should beware as one of the narrowest parts measures just 40 centimetres wide, leaving little room for manoeuvre!

Quimby-Jones also recommends Wangfujing, a lively shopping street at the very heart of the city. At night, this commercial hub is illuminated by hundreds of colourful neon signs. However, the cooking aromas emanating from one of the many snack streets that shoot off the main stretch may tempt hungry shoppers. The Donghuamen night market is one of the most popular snack streets and is certainly an eye opener. One for the adventurous foodie, here market vendors sell an exotic delicacy called chuanr – a type of meat on a skewer. Meats include deep fried insects and barbequed sea horses.

Julia Zhou from Beijing Easyou Chinese Language School recommends students try some of the many traditional dishes, such as Beijing hot pot (stew), dumplings and baozi – a type of steamed bun filled with meat or vegetables. While Zhang advises students sample gong bao chicken (kung pao chicken), a Sichuan speciality. “It is [very] different from [the dish of this name found in] western countries. Here it is a little sweet and a little spicy,” she describes. She also adds that students are given sample menus in both English and Mandarin upon arrival to help them when out and about. “Additionally, we take [students] to various banquets which include various types of specialities and of course the famous dish, peking duck,” she adds.

As an inherent part of Chinese culture, many staple foods carry symbolic meaning, for example, noodles are a sign of longevity while tangerines and oranges, which are traditionally handed out during Chinese New Year, symbolise luck and wealth. Other foods are intended to honour gods or a revered person in history. Zong Zi – glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves – are a perfect example of this and are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival in June – thought to commemorate the death of Chinese poet, Qu Yuan. The day-long celebrations culminate in dragon boat races which, says Quimby-Jones, draw in the crowds. “The excitement of both locals and tourists create an exhilarating atmosphere as spectators line the riverside in anticipation of the fleet of dragon boats to race past the finish line,” he says.

In fact there are a number of exciting festivals and concerts that pepper the Chinese calendar. Quimby-Jones observes that during January and February Chinese New Year celebrations take over. “The fireworks in China will be like no other you have experienced in your life…” he notes, adding that modern day celebrations are just as captivating as the more traditional affairs. “In some districts, riddles are hung from lanterns that line the streets and prizes are given to those who guess the answers!”

Guo Ruicheng from Capital Mandarin School adds that the Spring Festival (as it is also known) is a solemn occasion, steeped in tradition. He says, “People will make dumplings, set off fireworks and put on new clothes,” a custom said to symbolise a fresh start, while cleaning the house is thought to rid the home-owner of ill-fortune.

Ruicheng relates that more modern offerings include the many concerts and sporting events held at the über contemporary National Grand Theatre (the Egg) and the fantastical National Stadium, colloquially known as the Bird’s Nest (main venue of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games). “[These] have a lot of brilliant performances at the weekends,” he affirms. Zhang also cites an array of random events sure to appeal to social butterflies including a lively music scene that showcases some of Beijing’s hottest rock bands. The What Bar is pitched within touching distance of the Forbidden City and attracts music fans in search of some alternative music.

It is exactly this kind of fusion, where old meets new, that keeps this Asian capital thriving. As Ruicheng says, “The strong modern breath is blowing in your face when you set foot in Beijing…once again demonstrating her enchanting charisma in front of the whole world.”


Agent viewpoint

“China is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Companies from all over the world are now doing business in China and are requiring employees that speak Chinese and are familiar with the Chinese way of thinking. Beijing, being the capital city of China, is the ideal place to gain those much-coveted skills. One of the most fascinating things about Beijing is the mixture of modern life and age-old history. Our students especially enjoy their stay with their Chinese host families – they get a great chance to practise their language skills, and can enjoy real Chinese food. Beijing also offers great opportunities for trips to the countryside.”
Christopher Thebing, Kolumbus Sprachreisen, Germany

“For learning Mandarin Chinese, Beijing is the best place as people on the streets do not have a strong accent, so students can practise speaking. Besides the spoken language, Beijing has many cultural and historical sights, museums and temples and other well-known sightseeing spots (like the Great Wall, Summer Palace) as well as many bars and discos. Many students stay with host families, which probably is the most interesting experience and speeds up the learning success. Compared to other cities, Beijing offers more cultural and historical sights.”
Sabine Stambke, Amazing China, Germany

“Students go to Beijing because it is a large city with an endless list of things to see, do and experience. Students like the language, civilisation and people. It is impressively huge, modern, clean and easy to travel around.”
Alain Bertholet, Langues Vivantes, Belgium


Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.

Name

Company

Country

Telephone

Email


ACCOMMODATION
Britannia Student
      Services  
Nido Student Living  
Sara's New York
      Homestay LLC  
Unite  

ASSOCIATIONS/ GROUPS
ABLS  
English Australia 
Feltom
Groupement FLE 
IALC International 
International House
      World Organisation
Languages Canada /
      Langues Canada  
MEI  
Perth Education City
Quality English
The English Network

EVENTS
Alphe Conferences  
English Australia  
Globus Education
      Agency  
IALC International  
IEFT- International
      Education Fairs of
      Turkey  
International House
      World Organisation  
Ukranian
      International
      Educational Fair  

EXAM BOARDS
Cambridge Esol  
IELTS  
Pearson Education  

GUARDIANSHIP
COMPANIES
Bright World
      Guardianships  

INSURANCE
Dr. Walter GmbH  
Student Guard
      Insurance  

SERVICES
ICEF  

TOURIST BOARDS
Malta Tourism
      Authority  

AUSTRALIA
Bond University  
Carrick Institute of
      Education  
La Trobe
      University  
Language
      Studies International
NAVITAS  
Pacific Gateway International College  
Perth Education City
Shafston
      International College
Universal English
      College
      (Global Village
      Sydney) 
University of
      Tasmania  
University of
      Western Australia  
University of
      Western Sydney
      College  

BELGUIM
CERAN Lingua
      International  

CANADA
Bow Valley College
Braemar
      International
      College  
CLLC  
East Coast School
      of Languages  
English Bay College  
English School of
      Canada  
Eurocentres Canada  
Geos North America  
Global Village  
ILSC  
International
      Language School of
      the YMCAs Quebec
Language Studies
      International  
LSC Language
      Studies Canada  
National School
      of Languages  
Niagara College  
Queen's University  
Richmond School
      District #38  
Saint Mary's
      University  
SAIT Polytechnic  
Stewart College of
      Languages  
Study Abroad
      Canada  
Thompson Rivers
      University  
University of Victoria  
Vancouver English
      Centre  

CHINA
iMandarin
      Language Training
      Institute  
Mandarin House  

EGYPT
IH Cairo  

ENGLAND
ABC Languages  
Bury Language
      School  
Cambridge
      Education Group  
Camp Beaumont  
English Language
      Centre Brighton &
      Hove  
English Studio  
Hove College  
INTO University
      Partnerships  
Kaplan International
      Colleges  
Kings Colleges  
LAL Central
      Marketing Office  
Language in Group  
London Metropolitan
      University  
Malvern House
      College London  
Pearson Education  
Quality English  
Queen Ethelburga's
      College  
Shakespeare College  
SKOLA  
Spinnaker College  
St Giles Colleges  
Study Group  
SUL Language
      Schools  
Thames Valley
      Summer Schools  
The English
      Network  
Twin Group  
Unite  
University of
      Cambridge ESOL
      Examinations  
University of
      Essex -
      International
      Academy  
Wimbledon School
      of English  

FRANCE
Accent Francais  
Alliance Française
      Paris Ile de France  
Alpha B - Institut
      Linguistique  
CLE  
College International
      de Cannes  
Ecole PERL  
Ecole Suisse
      Internationale  
Education En France
Idiom  
Institut de Langue
      et de Culture
      Françaises - ILCF  
Langue Onze
      Toulouse  
LSF Montpellier  
Lyon Bleu
      International  
Paris Langues /
      Club CEI des 4
      Vents
Universite de
      Paris Sorbonne  

GERMANY
Sprachcaffe
      International /
      Languages Plus  

GREECE
Filomathia  

GUADELOUPE
Media Langues
     Caraibes  

HONG KONG
ALLTERE
      Education Group  

IRELAND
Alpha College of
      English  
Centre of English
      Studies  
Horner School of
      English  
Linguaviva
      Centre  
MEI  

JAPAN
Tamagawa
      International
      Language School  

MALTA
Clubclass
      Residential
      Language School  
EC English
      Language Centre  
English Language
      Academy  
Feltom
Global Village  
Malta Tourism
      Authority  

SCOTLAND
EAC Language
      Centres and
      Activity Camps.  

SOUTH AFRICA
EC Cape Town  
EF - SA  
English in Africa
      Language School  
Eurocentres Cape
      Town  
Good Hope Studies  
inlingua Language
      Training Centre
      Cape Town  
Interlink School
      of Languages  
International House
      Cape Town  
Kurus English CC  
LAL Cape Town  

SPAIN
Inturjoven  
Malaca Instituto -
      Club Hispanico SL  
Malaga Si  
Universitat
      Internacional de
      Catalunya  

SWITZERLAND
EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
Eurocentres
      International  

USA
ELS Language
      Centers  
IH New York  
Julian Krinsky
      Camps & Programs
Language
      Consultants
      International, LCI
University of
      Arizona 
University of
      California Riverside
University of
      California San Diego  
Zoni Language
      Centers  



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