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Some concerns about EBCL project after Berlin Seminar – Kate Hammond

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Dear Dr Song


It was a pleasure to meet you in Berlin recently where I attended the EBCL seminar.


I am very interested in this project from a publisher point of view, particularly in the light of my close association with Hanban, and found the day most interesting.


I was particularly interested in the debate about written Chinese and how this should be accommodated within the European framework. I was surprised at the resistance shown by the other seminar participants with regard to the use of electronic devices as a valid means of producing written text. I acknowledge that this means of writing incorporates reading skills to obtain the required outcome, but is nonetheless an increasingly widely used method of producing written communications.


I am also an advocate of the use of pinyin as a valid means of written communication and disagree with the comments that no Chinese person would be able to understand what is being communicated if written in pinyin. Electronic devices of whatever nature function predictively on the basis of pinyin input and will produce characters if the necessary software is installed. It therefore goes without saying that the majority of Chinese people familiar with electronic devices will understand pinyin text.


We are equipping young people for life in the 21st century during the course of which electronic media are set to play a role of ever-increasing significance. This needs to be recognised by EBCL project and accommodated in the proposals for A1 and A2. It is unlikely that the young people studying Chinese in Europe will be writing with a pen and paper in their future employment, but will be using whatever form of electronic device is available, thus requiring an active acknowledge of pinyin and the ability to recognise the required characters  – at least in the current state-of-the art technology. Were I prospective employer, I would be impressed to know that a candidate is able to draw the characters of a, say, B2-level text but would more interested to know that he or she is able to generate a text of that level by means of an electronic device. In this light, it is equally valid to include this method of producing written text at A1 and A2.


My suggestion would be that the project creates two additional categories for written Chinese that match the proposed descriptors but relate to:

1.       Texts written in pinyin

2.       Text written on an electronic device


I look forward to receiving your comments to my suggestions.


On a separate note, my partner and I will be at the Schools Network annual Chinese conference on Friday and Saturday of this week. This is taking place at the Connaught Rooms on Friday and the British Museum on Saturday. We would be delighted to see you there – you may be interested to know that Joel Bellassen is delivering a speech there on Friday afternoon at 15:55.


Best wishes




Kate Hammond

Director of Languages




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