Competition for study in Germany
Updated: 2018-05-23
By Zhou Wenting (China Daily)

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The first national competition for students majoring in German was held at the Shanghai International Studies University on May 20, with 24 students from eight universities around the country participating.

They went through four sessions - a prepared speech, an impromptu speech, a knowledge contest and a word-guessing game - which saw the SISU team take top prize. The three team members were awarded a subsidized study trip to Germany next summer.

Jiang Feng, Party chief of SISU, the organizer of the competition, says the event was intended to serve as a platform for students to not only enhance their skills in the German language, which is the most widely spoken language in the European Union, but also to expand their way of thinking about globalization.

The other teams entering the competition were from Fudan University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Tongji University, Zhejiang University, Nanjing University, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies and Wuhan University.

Each university team assigned one member to participate in the session for the prepared speech on the topic of "The cultural mission of German learners set against the background of globalization".

Ye Yuchen, a sophomore student from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said in his speech that he understood the mission was to offer more accurate and elegant translations, so that more great works of literature from one language could be better communicated to people speaking another language.

He said he recently read a historical book translated from German to Mandarin, but the translation was too rigid and at times confusing.

"Bad translation may result in the loss of a good book. So if any of us will take up the occupation of translating books in the future, we must avoid these kinds of mistakes," says Ye, who started learning German at senior high school.

Since then, he has aspired to become an interpreter. He said last year he worked as interpreter for a German writer of children's books during a book fair in Shanghai, and this experience made him more determined than ever to pursue translation as a career.

Ye will spend a semester at the University of Munich starting in the autumn.

"I will take full advantage of the opportunities both in and out of class to tell the teachers and students in Germany what China is like today," he says.

Jiang says the number of people learning German, which is spoken by around 100 million people in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and northern Italy, is obviously smaller than those learning English, but the trend of learning German is growing - and China needs to develop more experts in foreign languages to be able to actively participate in globalization.

"Moreover, Sino-German relations play an important part in the current complex state of international relations, and the German-speaking region is one of the largest trading partners for China. Such a large business and trading volume requires a large number of experts," he says.

Susanne Lada'a from the science affairs department with the Consulate General of Germany in Shanghai, says learning the language is an important step for those working in scientific circles.

"Many technical inventions and ideas are formulated by German-speaking scientists. It's usually better to read their books in the original language, as they often convey deeper meaning than the translated versions," she says.

She says that in Germany the government is pushing to increase the number of people learning Mandarin, especially since China is regarded as a crucial partner for Germany, not only in terms of trade, but also for cultural exchanges and other types of cooperation.

zhouwenting@chinadaily.com.cn

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