21 Dec, 2023
14 : 45
This semester, we had the pleasure of welcoming William Barada back to our YCIS Beijing campus. William is French-Lebanese and originally joined us in 2017 as a K4 kindergarten student. He stayed with our school for five years until he graduated from Year 4 and moved to Cyprus with his family last summer. Ever since leaving China, ten-year-old William has been dreaming of returning to his first alma mater to reconnect with his friends and teachers. His hard work and dedication towards Chinese Language learning finally made his wish come true: William won the prestigious China Bridge Chinese Language Competition Gold Award in Cyprus, which shortlisted him for the International Competition in Kunming, China. We were delighted to sit down with him to learn more about his inspiring journey. With a beaming smile and a humble spirit, William shared his story of conquering the Chinese language – in fluent Chinese, of course.
We heard that you recently participated in a language competition. Can you tell us more about it?
"Yes, I took part in the China Bridge International Chinese Language Competition held in Kunming. The competition went on for more than seven days and was divided into two parts – a language test and a speech. The speech part included a talent show and storytelling. For my speech, I was awarded the highest number of points of all contestants. This award has a special name; it is called the Personality Award."
What did you prepare for your speech?
“For the talent show part, I performed a song called ‘Me and My Motherland’. To prepare for it, I practised the lyrics with my teacher in Cyprus and my Chinese online teacher. I listened to the song over and over and gradually learned and memorised it. For the storytelling part, I introduced myself and retold the ancient story from Chinese Mythology, ‘Hou Yi Shot the Suns’."
What other advantages do you have in speaking Chinese?
"I feel fortunate that I can talk to anyone in China. As a vast country with a rich history, China has always fascinated me, and speaking Chinese will be very useful when I am an adult. I may return to China for my higher studies, and I have always dreamed of studying at Tsinghua University. As I live abroad, I only get a few chances to speak the language, but now that we are travelling, I only speak Chinese. For instance, while ordering food at restaurants, I can ask for "beef noodles with tofu, not spicy," and I can even read the menu. "
Do you remember how you started learning Chinese at YCIS?
"I started having Chinese classes in Year 1. We had one lesson every day, and I was in the native speakers class, which is called the CFL (Chinese as First Language) class. There are two different classes - the CFL class and the CAL (Chinese as Additional Language) class. My friend with the Chinese name ‘Lightning‘ and I were the only foreigners in the CFL class. "
What advice would you offer to other Chinese language learners?
"Some of my other foreign friends find learning Chinese a bit tiring. I am determined to learn it with all my heart, and you won’t hear me say that it is too difficult or that I don’t want to learn it. I give my best effort every day and listen closely to my teacher. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have come so far. "
Do you have a favourite memory of your time at YCIS?
"Yes! It was a two-week group project in Year 4. We had to imagine and create a new planet that humans could immigrate to. I had so much fun with my classmates as everyone came up with a different and unique idea for the project. We organised a learning assembly, and our parents came to see us perform on stage. "
Following, William displayed his passion for performing and the Chinese language by giving a stunning rendition of his competition song ‘Me and My Motherland’. William's story is a true testament to the incredible impact of perseverance and diligence. We are delighted that William shared his outstanding international achievement in Chinese language proficiency with us, and we trust that this accomplishment serves him as a foundation for further success. We wish William all the best in his future endeavours as a student, language learner and global citizen.
"We are immensely proud of William. Out of 58 students from five continents, William achieved the highest score for his speech. He ranked second in Europe and third globally for the entire competition. It goes without saying that his language proficiency level and his invitation to the Chinese proficiency competition are a direct result of the knowledge he gained during his five years at YCIS. The YCIS team did an exceptional job, and we are beyond grateful for their efforts. Words cannot express how much we miss the school, our friends, and the teachers at YCIS!" -William's mother, Ms Rana Sbaity