Portuguese language training helps Chinese businessmen in Brazil
Updated: 2014-06-07 00:54
By ZHANG FAN in Sao Paulo (China Daily USA)
Yu Yong(fifth from left),the commercial counselor at the Chinese Consulate in Sao Paulo, is with students and a volunteer teacher of the Portuguese language class for employees of Chinese companies in Sao Paulo that is held on Saturdays. [Zhang Fan/China Daily]
"You cannot actually understand the local society if you are unable to speak its language. We are here for international trade, which requires us to have a thorough understanding of Brazil's culture and people, so we need to learn Portuguese," said Bi Yupeng, general manager of China South Locomotive& Rolling Stock Corp in Brazil.
Bi is not the only one who finds it necessary to overcome the language barrier for his company's development in Brazil, as well as to understand and appreciate the country's culture and people.
About 20 to 30 students, most of them leaders of major Chinese companies in Brazil, participate in a Portuguese language class arranged by the Chinese Consulate General in Sao Paulo. First in-troduced in early May, so far four language classes have been held.
"We launched the program because we have noticed a shared pursuit among Chinese companies to learn Portuguese," said Yu Yong, the commercial counselor at the Chinese Consulate in Sao Paulo.
Yu, one of the main organizers of the class, said most employees of Chinese companies in Sao Paulo can speak English but not Portuguese, and that has had an impact on their lives and work. It is the responsibility of the Consulate to provide such language training, he said.
"Our class is totally free because it is only a platform for Chinese companies here," said Yu. "There are some employees who are able to speak fluent Portuguese, and we asked them to be volunteer teachers."
The class is held on Saturdays at a room provided by Air China, China's largest air carrier.
"Chinese companies are quite active in providing all kinds of resources for the language class. Such joint effort is a guarantee for the smooth operation of the program. It is also a chance to advance connections between Chinese companies," Yu said.
Lu Shanming, the assistant general manager of the China Trade Center in Sao Paulo, was one of the first students to apply for the class.
"I never learned Portuguese and relied on my interpreter all the time. However, that isn't the way to actually be involved in Brazilian's lives. I need to get more connected with society through its lan-guage," Lu said. "We are grateful that the Chinese Consulate General provides such help. The class targets words and phrases that we can use in our daily lives, so it is quite helpful."
Xu Jing, a CAC sales engineer from the Gree Electric Company's branch office in Brazil, arrived back in Sao Paulo from a business trip to China just one day before the Portuguese class.
"I was still suffering from jet lag but I did not want to miss the chance to improve my language with the help of professional teachers," said Xu, "I need to communicate with all social classes in Brazil, so speaking Portuguese is very important."
The class has three volunteer teachers, all of whom are from Chinese companies in Sao Paulo. Dong Zhengnan was the first volunteer teacher.
"I majored in Portuguese so I have the ability to contribute to the program. We are all Chinese living in a remote country so it is important for us to unite and help each other," he said.
Dong works at Mindray Brazil, a medical-devices company based in Shenzhen, China.
"My job as the sales supervisor is usually under great pressure. Teaching Portuguese is a way to help me reduce the stress to some extent. I think I will continue to teach as long as I have the time," he said.
The Portuguese class is among the many programs provided by the Chinese Consulate General for Chinese companies, including security training, commercial information sharing and an introduction to Brazil's tax policies.
"Such services are also greatly supported by the Chinese embassy and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. We will continue to provide such help to promote the development of Chinese companies in Brazil and the mutual understanding between the two sides," Yu said.
Employees of Chinese companies in Sao Paulo are learning Portuguese in a classroom provided by Air China and with the help of a volunteer teacher on Saturdays. [Zhang Fan/China Daily]