Ireland chosen as location for prestigious Centre for Mandarin Learning
On February 27, 2022 (Sunday), The fourth Taiwan Centre for Mandarin Learning in Europe was officially established in Dublin, Ireland. Unveiling the plaque marked a further milestone in the ongoing deep collaboration between overseas heritage language schools around the world, such as Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese, the Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC) and various ministries in Taiwan. Following the Mandarin language education export programme promoted by the Ministry of Education several years ago, the OCAC led and echoed the goal to "build teacher training bases, enhance the capacity of Mandarin learning centres, expand the learning markets internationally, and promote the Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL)". It shows the government’s determination of promoting Mandarin learning globally and took the first step of promoting Mandarin Learning for adults in Ireland.
"Taiwan offers an option to learn Mandarin with freedom and without proscription," Ambassador Yang said in his opening speech that the establishment of the Taiwan Centre for Mandarin Learning in Ireland (TCMLI) marks an important milestone in cultural exchanges between Ireland and Taiwan. He cited the famous book "Freedom to Learn" by American humanist psychologist Carl Rogers to explain that there are actually many opportunities to learn Mandarin in Ireland, but there are always hidden political taboos, and many topics cannot be discussed. Such taboo restrictions are not conducive to language and culture learning. The TCMLI provides an independent and open option that conforms to the trend of the times.
The chairperson of Dublin School of Mandarin Chinese, Mr Hsu Hsiao Ping, emphasised that he is extremely delighted with this opportunity to share Taiwanese culture through Mandarin education. He firmly believes language is not just about words but also about values and culture. Dublin City Councillor Declan Flanagan was invited to speak and commented on Principal Furlong's dedication in promoting the heritage language education, “I welcome the news that the centre will be based in the Liberties, The Masonry, an iconic and beautiful building, formerly the Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society used as a seed and grain house. The building was an Edwardian style and was carefully renovated to honour its heritage”. He expressed that he is delighted to see that there are many interested in Mandarin learning in Ireland. The establishment of the TCMLI indicates the cultural diversity of Irish society and the vigorous development of international communities in Ireland.
In order to develop and encourage adults to learn Chinese, TCMLI offers scholarships for outstanding students in the first term. A scholarship recipient, an Aer Lingus engineer Barry Thomson said in an interview “Evan made many of the things that I had found daunting in the beginning, such as tones and recognising Chinese characters, into something fun and fascinating. The training material was easy to follow along to as a beginner and allowed me to start reading full sentences very early on. We also focused on Chinese culture and the importance of the traditional writing system still prevalent in Taiwan, Hong Kong, etc. This has given me a greater appreciation for Chinese culture, which I am excited to learn more and more about”. Barry’s wife is a native Mandarin Chinese speaker and they are raising their daughter bilingually. His initial goal was to be able to have basic conversations with family from time to time. However, after taking these classes, he’s found himself not only having extended conver