Starting Chinese Evening


Chinese evening - an opportunity to practice speaking Chinese
Every third or fourth Friday of the month - starting April 19
From 20.00, Cafe Atlantis (Ged. Zuiderdiep 61, Groningen)
Free admission, drop by any time

Being an enthusiastic learner of Mandarin, I am always looking for extra opportunities to practice. Especially practice in conversing - reading, writing and listening can all be done alone and offline, but holding a conversation is at the same time the most difficult thing to practice, and the most useful skill to actually have. For that reason, I decided to set up a regular 'Chinese evening', an opportunity for Chinese learners to meet each other and some native speakers and practice Mandarin.

The idea started while I was taking my HSK 3 exams in December 2012. While waiting for the exam to start, I met a few of the other examinees and we started talking about the way we had started learning and how we practiced. I realised that it would be fun to meet such people more often and practice speaking Chinese. I myself study Chinese on my own, and I always try to find a language exchange partner to practice actual conversation with. But some of the others I spoke to at the exam rarely used Chinese outside the classroom - and really trying to talk to someone can be very different from doing classroom exercises, as I found out when I went to the Sign Language Cafe during my Dutch sign language course. For one thing, it is a lot harder - but it is also very satisfying to be 'really talking'.

So I started thinking: it would be nice to have something like the Sign Language Cafe for Mandarin learners. An opportunity to meet other learners and exchange experiences, a safe environment to try and really use the language, a different setting from the classroom. I observed for myself that my capabilities of actually speaking improved immensely after I found my first language partner. But not everyone will have the opportunity to find such a partner - finding such a person could be another possible function of a Chinese practice evening.

Convinced of the idea, I approached the Groningen Confucius Institute. The GCI organises the Chinese courses at Groningen University as well as the HSK exams and countless other Chinese language and culture events in Groningen. They were therefore the ideal partner for an undertaking such as this, having contacts with other Chinese learners and a network of Chinese speakers in Groningen.

Happily, the GCI was enthusiastic about the idea, and the first edition of the Chinese Evening is planned for April 19, in Cafe Atlantis in Groningen (Ged. Zuiderdiep 61, 20.00). If successful, we will have the event on every third Friday of the month. CGI will provide a little piece of Chinese cultural information each evening, and will also invite a few Mandarin speakers, so language learners can practice their conversation skills with native speakers if they want to.

I am very curious how it will work out, hopefully it will become a fun, relaxed monthly event! 学说中国话,朋友遍天下