Popular Chinese program praised

March 04, 2004, vol. 29, no. 5
By Diane Luckow

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James Mackenzie's enthusiam for learning Mandarin spills over as he counts up the 15 courses in Mandarin that he has taken over the past five years at the David See-Chai Lam centre for international communication.

“I can speak and understand and now to learn to read it is very exciting,” says Mackenzie, a Vancouver lawyer. A keen linguist who speaks Japanese and several other languages, he is one of about 300 people who each year sign up for some of the 30 language and 20 cultural courses that the Chinese program at the Lam centre offers at SFU's downtown Harbour Centre campus. “Anyone interested in learning the language shouldn't be intimidated by the reputation of Chinese being unduly difficult,” notes Mackenzie.

“The instruction technique is very supportive and educational and moves a student along in a logical and reasonable progression until you find yourself understanding people on the bus.”

The Lam Centre's most recent offering is a new course in Taiwanese.

Yvonne Walls, director of the Chinese program, introduced the centre's first course, beginners' Mandarin, in the fall of 1989 with just five pupils. Now, the centre also offers programs in Cantonese and Korean as well as cultural courses that include Fung Shui (the science of how the environment harmonizes with humans), yi jing (which examines the cyclical nature of the universe) and a new course, Chinese diet, a balancing act. Chinese brush painting courses are also very popular.

“Our students are a mixed group,” notes Walls. “They include people who have no background in the language or culture as well as those who have some background.”

The Lam centre also offers a series of courses in Chinese business and law to assist Canadians interested in doing business in China. There is also a Japanese language and cultural program offered at the centre.

Walls says there is still time to sign up this spring for Chinese brush painting, which commences March 13 and Chinese diet, commencing March 15. Yi jing, offered twice a year, starts March 27.

For more information, contact the Chinese program at 604-291-5118.

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