Students’ Skill Impresses Native Chinese Language Teacher

PHNOM PENH – Language teacher Cui Wen from China has spoken about her cultural surprises in Cambodia and the skill of her students in Chinese.

Cui Wen has taught for several months at the Institute of Foreign Language (IFL) in Phnom Penh.

She said she was impressed with the Chinese knowledge of the Cambodian students as some of them had passed the Chinese Proficiency Test 6 (HSK 6), which is considered a high level for non-native speakers.

“I have no problem using Chinese to communicate with my students as they speak Chinese very fluently,” she said. “Sometimes, I doubt myself whether I am in a foreign country.”

The subjects she teaches include earth science, reading and ancient Chinese, which are taught in the Chinese language. However, the language levels of students differed and she had to ensure every student could keep up with the lessons.

“I try to slow down my teaching pace, explain one by one, and especially use basic examples or words to make it easier for students,” she said.

Chinese Language Opens Up Opportunities

Learning any language does require time and effort. As one of the official languages of the United Nations, Chinese provides extensive advantages for learners.

“Being able to understand Chinese fluently, it seems like you open up more opportunities to the world,” Cui Wen said.

As cooperation between China and Cambodia deepens, Chinese speakers are in demand for Chinese companies investing in Cambodia.

Life in Cambodia

Cui Wen, from Shandong province, had been living in China for almost two decades and never got a chance to visit Cambodia.

Living in a new country that shares a different culture and language, a language barrier is inevitable, she said.

She encountered some communication difficulties as she only knew a few Khmer words.

She has no choice but to use body language and translation apps to help. Sometimes her students can be her translators when they travel together.

When she first arrived in Cambodia, her first impression was the hot weather as mean temperatures in her hometown are 11 to 14 °C.

Apart from the hot and steamy weather, she thinks the people here seem very cheerful and relaxed.

On the way back home, she often sees locals playing music, singing and dancing in their houses with relatives. Seeing people merrily gathering with relatives touched her greatly.

She noticed that almost every house decorates its balcony with plants, which makes the house look more beautiful and greener.

After living in Cambodia for a few months, she found that Cambodian people are accustomed to taking off their shoes when entering the house. This confused her at first. She has just realized that taking off shoes shows respect.

“Wearing shoes into the house would be considered as bringing unclean things into the house too,” she said. “Later, I always take off my shoes when entering temples or some other place like the locals do to show respect.”

She can find many delicious foods in Cambodia. What makes her life here even more convenient is booking tuk-tuks on her phone.

Most notably, Chinese mobile banking payment is also available and some supermarkets have Alipay or WeChat.

“Thus, I have already adapted to life here in Cambodia since the first month I first arrived here. I proudly say that I have 99 percent adapted to life in Cambodia now,” she said.

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