Bright, colorful Beijing Opera faces appear on a computer screen. A window pops up and the teacher asks the students: “Shall we go to see Beijing Opera?”
This is the scene of an online Chinese class in India’s Mumbai. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, online Chinese learning on various platforms is gaining popularity locally.
Eighteen-year-old Drashti Gala from Mumbai is one of many online Chinese learners and even has a Chinese name Tang Dashi.
She told Xinhua that all three siblings in her family started learning Chinese following their father’s suggestion. Within a short space of time she has successfully passed HSK3 (Level 3 of the International Chinese Proficiency Test) and is currently preparing for the higher-level exams.
“After the lockdown in Mumbai, everybody stayed indoors, but our Chinese class has moved online and our progress has not been affected,” Drashti said.
“In the last two classes, everyone studied about the Chinese Tomb-sweeping Festival, the origin of Chinese characters and the evolution of Chinese characters from Oracle bones script to Simplified Chinese characters,” she said.
“The classes are interspersed with lessons about Chinese culture, which makes learning vivid and interesting,” Drashti added.
One of the teachers of the online course of the India China Academy where Drashti studies is Indian teacher Nishith Shah (Tang Hanming) who uses rich online courseware to explain the details of the language and conduct interactive sessions for students to practice.
Nishith told Xinhua in a telephone interview that there are currently 30 students attending the academy, the youngest is nine years old, and the oldest is more than 40 years old. Although everyone is studying for different reasons, they all have a deep interest in Chinese language and culture.
“On March 24, India announced the lockdown of cities throughout the country. Hence, we started online teaching. Initially, some students were hesitant as they were not used to studying online, but now they realize that online learning means they can follow the rules of the lockdown and save time that would have been spent on traveling,” he said.
Drashti told Xinhua that during the lockdown, online Chinese lessons every weekend are one of the activities she looks forward to the most. In addition, she has also tried to improve her Chinese by translating some ancient Chinese poems into Hindi. “Our father believes that learning Chinese will help to build a better future, hence we study very hard,” she said.
On April 14, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of the lockdown until May 3. According to official data released by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry of India, as of April 17, confirmed COVID-19 cases in India had climbed to 13,387, of which 1,936 were diagnosed in Mumbai. The death toll at the time stood at 437 people.
Most Chinese training institutions in Mumbai have been moved online due to the lockdown. Some people in charge also told Xinhua that compared to traditional classroom teaching, online courses are more convenient, easier to conduct, and the cost of renting classrooms is also saved. They said they believe that online training will continue to be used after the pandemic.
Via WeChat, a popular messaging app, Nishith sent a poem written by Anastasia, a member of the education committee of the India China Academy, which roughly translates as follows:
“I will study hard for myself and my family, and strive hard to achieve a higher goal, make contributions to the motherland, strengthen the friendship between India and China and, work for the prosperity of the two countries!”
“In order to encourage and ensure that students are focused on their studies, every India China Academy member has to recite the poem before class starts,” Nishith said.
“It is a difficult time for all, but this too shall pass. We must prepare and look forward to a better future,” he said.
Courtesy – ChinaDaily