By Jonathan Chin / Editor, with CNA
The Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) language program at Cours d’Adultes de Paris, one of the largest public language-learning institutions in France, graduated its first class during an online event on June 25.
The program, which launched in October last year, has enrolled 66 students from around the world, offering classes taught remotely by Taiwanese professors, a representative for the center told the Central News Agency.
The graduates demonstrated their mastery of the virtual ceremony by giving presentations on a topic relating to Taiwan, simulating social interactions or singing songs.
Eleonore, a graduate of the course who fell in love with Taiwan in high school and went there as an exchange student, said she was happy “to learn Hoklo idioms through Taiwanese groups, such as EggPlantEgg (茄子蛋)”.
“As someone who wants to live and work in Taiwan, I signed up as soon as I heard Paris City Hall was opening classes,” she said, adding that the program helped her understand Taiwanese culture, Hoklo syntax and its differences with Mandarin.
Eleonore studied Taiwan and geopolitics at the Institute of Political Studies in Lyon and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, she said.
Coline Mailleux, lecturer at the Center for Language Education and Research at Sophia University in Tokyo, sang the Taiwanese classic Express Love Letter (愛情限時批) by Wu Bai (伍佰) and China Blue (萬芳) with her classmates from class.
“I imagine being at a karaoke [club] in Taiwan every time I hear this song,” she said, adding that she had visited the country 15 years ago and had wanted to live there ever since.
“Taiwan is a country full of promise for the future,” she said.
Telecommunications integration engineer Benjamin, who gave a presentation on Taiwanese beer, Kaoliang liquor and whiskey, said he was learning the language because his wife is Taiwanese.
“Hoklo is an important part of the world’s cultural heritage and deserves to be protected,” he said.
Pan Yi-ling (潘怡伶), the program instructor for students without prior Mandarin fluency, said learning about Taiwanese culture is an important part of the class because some students have never been there.
Instructing students without a Chinese language background presents additional challenges in teaching the meaning and context of sentences, which must be explained in French, making it difficult to accurately translate idioms, he said.
“I’m amazed that so many French people with no connection to Taiwan want to learn Hoklo,” she said.
“The effort they put into learning the language is deeply inspiring,” she added.
Miao Lin-Zucker (林季苗), associate professor in the department of foreign languages at the University of Lyon and one of the founders of the program, said new classes would be opened in August next year.
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