When Mandarin sounds Chin'ease' for Bangalore

Demand for learning the language rises as City's trade ties with China grow

When Mandarin sounds Chin'ease' for Bangalore

The demand for learning Mandarin or Chinese language is on the rise in Bangalore, where it has been a low-key affair for the last few years. 

The Mandarin School of India (MSI), based in the city, has been declared India’s authorised centre to conduct Chinese Proficiency Exams or HSK, the equivalent of TOEFL that students take for entry into Western universities, by Hanbin University, China, and the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi. 

Training for HSK exams is undertaken up to four levels at this Whitefield-based school, while the fifth and sixth level are taken up in China because the language turns complex. 

The Chinese embassy, through the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), permitted MSI to conduct the advanced exams. The school has ties with VIT to teach the language.

80 students trained

The school, which was launched in March 2013 and has trained between 50 and 80 students in spoken and written Mandarin, has branches in Chennai, Vellore, and Mumbai. It will conduct the exams in Bangalore and other centres. 

The school was launched by S Swaminathan, a textile technologist based in Bangalore, who took up the task of teaching Chinese to local residents as a hobby. 

How it all started

“After retirement, I felt I should do something fulfilling. I stumbled upon the idea of teaching Chinese as interactions between China and India, and in particular, Bangalore have been growing. It is hard to learn, so the number of students will not be extraordinarily high, initially. But I see that the Indian economy is opening up and there is extensive travel between China and Bangalore. So, I set up the learning centre,” says Swaminathan, who learnt Chinese from experts in the subject at Bangalore University.

Elective subject

The school has taken Chinese to the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore, where it is offered as an elective every year. Teachers taught Chinese this year and last year and plan to continue working with the institute. 

The Mandarin school has also taught professionals from corporate houses like Exxon Mobil and Avnet. The school has now approached Infosys to impart Chinese language lessons to its employees, given that the company has a development centre in China. There are plans to teach Chinese in private institutions as well. The school has approached the M S Ramaiah School of Management, St Xavier’s Institute, Symbiosis College of Management and Reva University in this regard. 

Business ties

Management institutes are taking great interest in Chinese, anticipating strong business ties and movement of professionals between the two countries.

Teachers at the school train students in Mandarin over 32 to 40 hours, depending on their comfort level, during weekends at the Whitefield Centre. IT professionals, college students and engineering graduates are the primary learners. 

Strong links 

The interaction between Shanghai and Bangalore, Chengdu and Bangalore, and even Dalian and Bangalore has intensified as these Chinese cities are IT hubs and business centres having links with Bangalore. 

Project work in Bangalore’s IT companies takes the maximum number of people to China from Bangalore as both China and India are heavily into computing. 

Pharmaceutical field

Around 1,500 students from the pharmaceutical field who go to China from all over India, including Bangalore, to complete their medical degrees over a period of five-six years find the Chinese course useful. 

Apart from the school, an organisation known as Ni Hao Bangalore also teaches Chinese. The centre was set up in July 2010 and 550 students have so far completed learning there. 

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