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New Concept Mandarin in Guangzhou

By Li Wenfang (Guangzhou Daily)

GUANGZHOU: The robust economy of South China's Guangdong Province, one of the economic powerhouses of the country, is driving more and more foreigners into classrooms to learn the Chinese language.

Expatriates from multinational companies, their wives and tradesmen make up the three main groups of students at the Guangzhou office of New Concept Mandarin (NCM), a Hong Kong-based Chinese teaching firm with offices in six mainland cities and a few overseas locations.

"The market here is forever increasing, being a trading city as Guangzhou is," said Ben Massen, centre manager of the Guangzhou office. The company has five offices in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Dongguan in Guangdong.

Taking an intensive three-month programme in Beijing in 2004, Robert Peters started to learn Chinese at NCM in January this year, as he was hired by a German welding torches manufacturing company in Guangzhou two years ago. "In my department there is only one person that can speak English and consequently I speak about 90 per cent in Chinese every day. In my daily life it helps me very much as I can understand others and express myself much better. Furthermore I can understand Chinese culture much better and that prevents potential misunderstanding," he said.

Michelle Duncan, a NCM student whose husband is working in Guangzhou, said "I have always wanted to learn Mandarin, plus knowing we would be in China for a length of time it just made sense. Daily life is much easier to live in a country when you know the language."