Tue, Mar 21, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Hoklo courses proving popular overseas

By Chung Li-hua  /  STAFF WRITER

The campus of the Universite de Lyon III in France, where the Chinese department now offers a Hoklo language program.

PHOTO COURTESY OF PROFESSOR LIU KUANG-NENG, NATIONAL CENTRAL UNI

It is not only Taiwanese politicians who are eager to learn Hoklo (commonly known as "Taiwanese"). An increasing number of well known international universities -- including nine institutions each in Japan and the US -- are now offering accredited Hoklo language classes.

Last year, the Hoklo language craze reached Europe, where France's Universite de Lyon III added a Hoklo language program to its Chinese department, making it the first European university to offer such a program.

Professor Liu Kuang-neng (劉光能) from the French department at National Central University has collaborated with his peers at the Universite de Lyon III for many years. He said that the French learned about Taiwan through the films of directors such as Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢), Tsai Ming-liang (蔡明亮), Ang Lee (李安), Edward Yang (楊德昌) and Lin Cheng-sheng (林正盛). Taiwanese films are held in such high regard in France that the Encyclopaedia Universalis lists Hou as one of the 10 greatest living film directors.

Gregory Lee (利大英), director of the Chinese department at Universite de Lyon III, says that French students in his department not only want to understand China, but also Taiwan. And he believes that the best way of doing this is through learning Hoklo, as the dialogue in many of the Taiwanese films the French students watch takes place in that language.

The Universite de Lyon III's post-graduate Taiwanese Studies program is divided into two parts.

The first year of the program offers classes in Taiwanese film studies, and the second year focuses on Taiwanese history classes.

Liu said that although there are not very many students in the program now, it serves as a bridge for young French students who want to learn more about Taiwan.

Lee arrived with the university's president, Guy Lavorel, on Sunday evening, for a one-week stay.

The aim of their trip is to visit the institutes for Taiwanese literature at National Central University, National Taiwan University and Tsing Hua University in order to initiate exchanges with the three schools.

The National Central Library will also present the Universite de Lyon III with books on Taiwan studies.

On Thursday, Lavorel is scheduled to give a speech at National Central University.

Liu said that the fact that the EU promotes cultural diversity will help promote attempts to set up Hoklo-language programs in Chinese departments at universities throughout the EU.

By taking advantage of this wave of interest to initiate active exchanges with European universities and build a good impression of Taiwan in the eyes of young Europeans, the nation will be able to connect with the international community.

Learning Hoklo

Overseas universities and colleges offering courses in the Hoklo language.

Japan:

Nagoya University of Foreign Studies

Aichi University

Tenri University

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Reitaku University

Daitobunka University

Keiyo University

Obirin University

Tsukuba University

North America:

University of Hawaii

University of California, Berkeley

Pennsylvania State University

Stanford University

Williams College

University of Michigan

Harvard University

University of Illinois

University of Colorado

Universities where student societies offer informal tuition in Hoklo: Yale University, Columbia University, Princeton University, Brown University and Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

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