"Ni hao!": Confucius Institute at University of Seychelles opens language lab
The lab is located in the ICT centre at the Mont Fleuri University campus. (Seychelles Nation)
Chinese language learners from Seychelles have obtained better facilities to learn about the language and culture with the opening of a language lab from Confucius Institute on Wednesday.
A language lab is a facility where students learning a foreign language can access audio and visual materials to help them master the language in an interactive environment.
This is part of the work that the Confucius Institute, under the aegis of the University of Seychelles (UniSey), is carrying out in the island nation to promote the Chinese language and culture.
The Confucius Institute in Seychelles is one where people learn about the Chinese culture and language through a series of cultural activities, workshops and festivals in addition to the courses on offer.
In 2015, what began as the Confucius Classroom was upgraded to an Institute and there are currently 500 Confucius institutes across the world.
The language lab project, which was delayed due to COVID-19 as well as other challenges such as shipping, was officially handed over to UniSey on July 6.
In her opening address, UniSey's Vice-Chancellor, Joelle Perreau, said the lab opening was a milestone in the institution's history.
"This is the first time that we have such a lab available for our students learning Chinese," she told reporters.
The lab is located in the ICT centre at the Mont Fleuri University campus.
The two institutions currently teach Chinese culture and language to students of the Seychelles Tourism Academy, Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority and immigration officers among others.
Tourism Seychelles, the marketing arm of the Department of Tourism, is currently working to increase the number of Chinese visitors to the country. Tourism Seychelles held a familiarisation trip for Chinese media and travel agents between January and February 2023 to sell the island nation as an ideal honeymoon location.
"We have tourists coming into the country who do not speak English or French, but only speak Cantonese. It will help if those working with them have learned how to speak the language," said Perreau.
She added that this will also help the country move forward and reach even higher heights.
The chargé d'affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Seychelles, Mu Jianfeng, said this shows the "overall friendship that exists between the two peoples".
There are 24 seats in the new language lab, which the director of the Institute at UniSey, Wang Dongxia, has described as "not just a language exchange but also a university exchange".
The newly opened lab will also be used for meetings and online and in-person training.
China and Seychelles have had longstanding relations since the first arrival of Chinese immigrants to the island nation in 1863 aboard a merchant ship. The two countries developed a strong cultural bond and established diplomatic ties in 1976.