| Aziz Idris in Guangxi, China |
THE Malay language is now gaining popularity among university students in China, where the number of universities offering courses in the language is on the rise.
With this, the friendly relations between Asean member countries will be strengthened especially in countries that use Malay as the official language such as Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia. This will improve the student and people exchange programmes between the countries.
Currently, there are eight universities in China that offer Malay language courses, which are the Beijing Foreign Studies University, Peking University, Communication University of China, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangxi University for Nationalities, Yunnan University for Nationalities, Louyang Military Academy and Tianjin Foreign Studies University.
In Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, a faculty has been dedicated to East Asian culture and language, led by Associate Professor Tan Xiao who conducts his entire course Malay language and has contributed to journals in Malay while studying in Malaysia.
In a recent interview with the Bulletin at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Professor Tan revealed that beginning in 2015, his faculty will see the recruitment of 20 new students undertaking the Malay language course.
He added that at present, the number of Chinese students who are interested to learn Malay or Bahasa Indonesia is increasing. Also, the number of teachers who graduated majoring in Malay or Indonesian is also on the rise.
The unique culture and language of the Malay community, noted Professor Tan, was the main attraction for Chinese students who choose to follow the Malay language courses at the university.
These students also had the opportunity to attend courses with partner universities in Malaysia and Indonesia.
The interest of students as well as the people from China on the East Asian culture and language are also witnessed at Guangxi University for Nationalities in Nanning, China, where the university not only offers Malay language courses but also other Asean languages including Thai and Indonesian.
During a visit to Guangxi University for Nationalities, the Bulletin had the opportunity to meet with 23-year-old, Wei Xian, a Malay language teacher who has just completed a degree course from the same university.
She revealed that there are about 20 students with no prior basic Malay language backgrounds currently enrolled in her courses. The Bulletin also had the opportunity to meet and converse in Malay with second year students taught by Wei Li.
Wei Xian said the students are required to spend their third year programme at University of Malaya, Malaysia, and will return to China to complete their fourth year before graduating.
One of the Malay language students, Li Yang Ping, who spoke eloquently in Malay, told the Bulletin of her passion for the unique culture of the Malay community, which has prompted her to choose Malay as the preferred language to learn.
Her other peers also shared the same sentiment and commented that the command of the language will make it easier for them to pursue their dreams of a career as a translator or converse with business associates in Asean member countries.