DUFL booms as bilingual talent hub
From: Chinadaily  | Writter: Zhang Xiaomin | Update: Dec 13, 2017  Read:1176

When Dalian University of Foreign Languages set up a Confucius Institute in Medellin, Colombia, in 2010, it brought new hope to a young local man named Juan Mateo Maya.

Maya, who was 18 years old, was a college student majoring in engineering. He had little interest in the subject and was thinking of learning Mandarin.

One day while wandering along the street, he came across the newly established institute and registered immediately.

"Soon, I realized that the Chinese language was my true love. So I suspended my college studies and tried to concentrate on learning Chinese," Maya recalls.

In his second year, he won a Confucius Institute scholarship to study at the DUFL in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning province.

"Established in 1964 as a college specializing in Japanese language learning, the DUFL has grown to be a comprehensive university which has cooperative relations with more than 200 colleges and universities in over 30 countries and regions around the world," says Liu Hong, president of the DUFL.

According to her, students can learn Japanese, English, Russian, French, German, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Italian and Portuguese at the DUFL. It also accepts overseas students who win scholarships from the Chinese government or from the Confucius Institute.

Since 2007, the university has set up nine Confucius Institute branches in Russia, Japan, South Korea, Colombia, Guyana, Brazil, Armenia, Portugal and Italy.

"I love the DUFL. When I completed my studies and returned to Colombia, I felt I had improved myself, and I dreamed about coming back to China again," says Maya.

Luckily enough, Maya attended the 14th Chinese Bridge Chinese-proficiency competition for foreign college students in 2015 and won the championship of the Americas.

He was awarded another scholarship from the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing to study for a bachelor's degree at a Chinese university.

"The DUFL is like my family, so I chose to come back to Dalian," says Maya.

"I will always be grateful to China, especially the Confucius Institute and the DUFL, for reshaping my future," he adds.

The president of the university is proud of the student.

"We are striving to cultivate more bilingual talented people like Maya to serve the country's new Belt and Road Initiative," says Liu, president of the university, which is located in Dalian city, a key Chinese seaport.

The DUFL is planning to teach more languages originating from countries relating to the initiative, such as Kazakh, Ukrainian, Polish and Czech.

"People are concerned about the development of translation software and artificial intelligence. But I think machines can never replace humans, since language has a strong emotional element," says Liu, adding that the graduates from the DUFL are playing a more important role in various fields about international communications and cooperation.

For example, more than 1,000 students majoring in Spanish have graduated from the university since 2002. They are now working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, and several other ministries, as well as companies doing business with Spanish-speaking countries.

Backed by a strong Spanish-teaching faculty, the DUFL set up a research center for Andean countries, the first of its kind in China. The center's launch ceremony was held on Oct 27 in Dalian and was attended by the ambassadors of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru to China.

The DUFL aims to build the research center into an academic institution and a new type of think tank that integrates academic research, policy advisory and international exchanges between Spanish-majoring students in China and Latin American nations.

"We plan to carry out in-depth research about culture, investment policy, laws and regulations and other aspects of Latin American countries, and further expand cooperation with Latin American colleges and universities in aspects of joint training, research cooperation, and faculty and student exchanges," she says.

Giving full play to the academic advantages of foreign languages, the DUFL is deepening efforts to develop different disciplines through integration and international cooperation.

The university boasts many international research institutions such as the China-Japan-ROK cooperation research center, a translation research center, and a center for the overseas communication of Chinese culture. It set up seven research centers on countries and regions including Russia, Ireland and northeast Asia and in 2017 registered them with the Ministry of Education. The university also has several State-level platforms for international cooperation, such as a China-Russia students exchange base and a multi-language base in Dalian for the international promotion of the Chinese language.

"The DUFL will cultivate more versatile talent and contribute more to international communications," says Liu.

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