The annual el Día E, or the Day of Spanish Language, is held in Shanghai on June 24, 2023. Photo: Courtesy of The Miguel de Cervantes Library
As a language scholar who came to China as early as in 1984, director of the Cervantes Institute Isabel Cervera has witnessed the huge changes and development that have taken place in the country over the past few decades, she noted at the recent World Chinese Language Conference.
And now, it's Cervera's third year holding office in Beijing. By traveling in places such as Chengdu and Luoyang, Cervera has gained her own insights in terms of the language teaching situation in China.
"In the past, the Spanish language used to be a very small fraction in the education system in China's universities, but now as far as I know, there are over 100 universities offering Spanish majors," Cervera told the Global Times in an interview during a sub-forum she attended during the conference last week.
Last week's conference hosted around 2,000 individuals from over 160 countries, including numerous sinologists and scholars in education, who shared their perspectives on China and its global role.
"We have Confucius Institutes in Spain, and every year I can see more Spanish people speaking Chinese very well. Many of them are very interested in Chinese culture. But concerning the deep knowledge involved, it is definitely not an easy job to understand the culture," Cervera added.
Public data shows that across the 21 Spanish speaking countries, there are nearly 500 million native Spanish speakers in this world.
"Spanish is a spoken language in a lot of countries in South America. And China has a lot of relationships with those countries economically, politically and culturally, and that is what makes learning the language so important," she said, adding that language communication is the basis for all other kinds of cooperation.
As an official organization established by the Spanish government to promote Spanish around the world, the Cervantes Institute is not just about language, Cervera said.
"We also attach great importance to cultural exchanges. For example, over the past few days, we held a Flamenco party, and among the 200 participants, many of them who could not speak Spanish also joined us. This is a good form of cultural exchange, and I've been thinking of holding more activities like this in the coming year."
Marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Spain, 2023 is now seeing a number of celebrations such as exhibitions and shows.
On Monday, an oil painting exhibition named Width of Realism - Contemporary Figurative Paintings China and Spainwas launched at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing. A total of 109 oil paintings created by 103 artists from China and Spain are on display to celebrate the 50th anniversary.
Another exhibition, The Way of Water, by Domènec Corbella, a Spanish artist and a lifelong honorary professor at the University of Barcelona, is also underway at the Art Museum of the Beijing Institute of Graphic Communication, showing the artist's understanding of Eastern philosophy, as well as his accurate and deliberate blending experiments with paint, ink and water.
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