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North Koreans demonstrate growing appetite to learn Chinese

chinese in north korean, learning chinese, chinese language

Young North Koreans are demonstrating a growing appetite to learn foreign languages so as to improve their job prospects – and allow them to understand TV programmes broadcast by neighbouring countries.

朝鲜年轻人对学外语表现出日渐浓厚的兴趣:会外语可以提高就业前景,同时看懂邻国播放的电视节目。

Kim Jong-un reportedly made foreign language-learning compulsory from the age of four after taking power in 2011, but today many parents among the country's elite are paying for extra tuition to improve their children's chances of being accepted into Chinese or English university courses.

金正恩在2011年掌权后规定儿童从4岁开始必须学习外语。但是,今天,朝鲜精英阶层的很多家长都在支付额外的学费,以提高孩子入读有中文或英文课程的大学的机会。

"Many people believe that those who work in foreign trade have even better standards of living than provincial party cadres, so there's more interest in language skills," said a source in Ryanggang province.

两江道的一名消息人士说:"很多人认为,做对外贸易的人,生活水平比党的干部还要高,所以对语言技巧的兴趣增强了。"

"If you're good at a second language you can get into a good university and get a nice job, so the drive among parents to get their children into special foreign language classes is fierce."

"如果外语流利,你就可以进入一所好大学,找到一份好工作。所以,家长让孩子进入特别外语班的动力极强。"

As economic reforms lead to a growth in privately owned businesses, the demand for North Koreans who can communicate with the outside world has increased. "Parents who want their children to have good language skills and get a solid job will do anything, including selling household goods, to make sure they have the support," the source said.

随着经济改革推动私企发展,对能够与外界沟通者的需求也开始增强。这名消息人士说:"希望孩子掌握良好的语言技能并且得到一份好工作的家长愿意付出一切,包括卖掉家里的东西,以确保孩子得到支持。"

Chinese or English-speaking is a skill associated with "good families" who would be able to go to university and apply their knowledge. The majority of the population is "less likely to be motivated to learn a foreign language because they cannot use this in the real world".

中文或英文与"家庭出身好"相关,这些人能够上大学并且运用自己的知识。大部分朝鲜人"学习外语的动力没那么强,因为他们无法在现实中运用这种技能"。

Chinese, rather than English, is often the language of choice – especially for students who live in border areas, according to the Ryanggang source.

两江道的那名消息人士说,朝鲜人学习外语的最佳选择往往是中文而非英文,在边境地区生活的学生尤其如此。

As well as ambition, it seems entertainment has a role to play. The source said that North Koreans living near the border with China wanted to be able to understand television programmes broadcast by their neighbour.

除了实现理想,外语似乎还有娱乐功能。这名消息人士说,生活在中朝边境的朝鲜人希望看懂邻国播放的电视节目。

"Some college students are staying behind at their schools during summer vacation so they can study Chinese," the source said.

这名消息人士还说:"有些大学生为了学习中文,暑假时都留在学校。"

2016-06-22

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