Learning Chinese best way to build cultural bridge, says Spanish student

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BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Studying the Chinese language is one of the best ways to get closer to Chinese culture, a Spanish student told Xinhua on Tuesday.

Albert Estrada, who has been studying at the Confucius Institute of Barcelona for five years, said: "After I first went to China in 2018, I set myself the goal of going there to live and to work soon if possible, because I love the whole culture there."

Albert's trip to China was inspired by some Chinese friends.

"When I got to China I saw it was a different world, and it fascinated me. It seemed a wonderful place, the people treated me well, and when I got back from that trip I began studying Chinese," he said.

The huge differences between the Chinese and Spanish languages mean that Chinese people find some aspects of Spanish grammar hard, says Albert, such as conjugating verbs. However, Spanish people find the pronunciation of Chinese, and Chinese characters challenging.

"I wouldn't say I speak Chinese right now, I'm a student of Chinese, which is not the same thing. But the last few times I've been to China I have been able to get by, and without resorting to English I've been able to shop, to buy food and talk to Chinese people," Albert told Xinhua.

The Confucius Institute was founded in Barcelona in 2009 as part of a collaborative effort between Spanish and Chinese universities. It offers Chinese language courses at 14 different levels, as well as the HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) exams, China's official test of language proficiency for non-native speakers.

Albert is currently on the fourth of the six HSK exams, and is one of more than 50,000 people studying Chinese in Spain.

He stressed that it is important to mix with Chinese people, both at home and in China.

"Breaking the linguistic barrier is the first step, and once they see that you are learning Chinese, they feel more relaxed with you and then it is easy to form a relationship with them," he said.

Albert also spent two months in China last summer, and hopes to visit for three months at the end of this year, and experience the Chinese New Year in China.

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