The history of China is not only a history of the Chinese people but also a history of its communication with foreign peoples, especially with those in the West. – Tian Bing
Introduction • The Historical Background for FLT in China • The Silk Road • Foreign Language Teaching (Yuan Dynasty to Present) • The Westernization Movement and Foreign Language Teaching • Foreign language education and flt in teacher’s college
1 Introduction • The Chinese People is one of great cultural achievements, as a result of its industrious exploration into the physical world and its relentless speculation and reflection into their own spiritual world, which are finally substantiated in their customs, architectures, social institutions, and classic literary works. • Education, however, also plays an indispensible role in the transmission and maintenance of the culture.
The Chinese People is also one of great survival adaptability, for it is a people consisting of a large number of minorities and it has long been adopting a policy of maintaining a harmonious relation among its family members and a friendly relationship with its neighboring countries, though wars, civil ones included, had been occasionally waged among them. • Its frequently communicating with other countries has helped to introduce fresh and vigorous elements to the Chinese culture, whose strenuous and assimilative capacity of survival has been constantly challenged and thus fostered in the meantime.
China has long been a prosperous, self-contained, and mighty empire in its long history. For most of the time in its history it has been a nation from which students from other countries to come to learn advanced technology and culture. • Its declining in the recent two centuries has been a new challenge and a severe pilgrimage to rejuvenation. Learning from the outside world and learning from the developed west has become an essential part of such a process, in which foreign language education has emerged and grown up steadily.
2 The Historical Background for FLT in China 2.1 FLT in early Chinese history • China is one of the countries having the richest resources of dialects and the longest history in the study of dialects. In quite remote times, in the region of central plains lived the Chinese people divided into tribes. They should have used basically the same language so that they could communicate without the help of the translator. • A good account of this situation is provided in the following quotation from The Lǔ’s Spring and Autumn Annals:
In the nations where people wear hats and belts and where carts and boats could reach, there would be no need for interpreters. However, all around the central plains there lived people of various nationalities. A glimpse of their life and living conditions could be caught from the following description: • In the East lived the Yi (夷) people who had their hair unbound, their bodies painted, and their food uncooked; • in the South lived the Man (蛮) people who had their foreheads inscribed, feet crossed in sleep, and their food uncooked; • in the West lived the Rong (戎) people who had their hair unbound, body covered with hides, and no grains cooked as food; and • in the North lived the Di (狄) people who wore feathers, lived in caves, and had no grains to eat. ——(王文锦, Wang Wenjin, 2001:176)
In the Zhou Dynasty, there were special departments and officials to take charge of foreign affairs, including translation and interpreter training. The head of the department was called 象胥(interpreting official), whose duty was succinctly described in the following quotation from The Rites of the Zhou Dynasty: The interpreting official is in charge of the foreign affairs with the small kingdoms of Man, Yi, Min (闽), Hao (貉), Rong, and Di. He is responsible for conveying the imperial edict issued by the Emperor to these small neighbouring kingdoms and announcing it to them so that peaceful relationships can be maintained and continued.
When messengers from these kingdoms arrive, he will cooperate and negotiate with them before they meet the Emperor at an appropriate ceremony; when they leave he will take care of the gifts to be presented to them and hold ceremonies to see them off in accordance to certain rites. The division of labour among the interpreters was specific and detailed. As to the function of translation, it is well pointed out in the following description: People from different regions speak different languages and have different customs, likes and dislikes, and they cannot communicate with each other or understand one another. To make what they think and what they want understandable, the indispensable and inevitable means is interpretation, which is called ji (寄) in the east, xiang (象) in the south, diti (狄鞮) in the west and yi (译) in the north (Wang Wenjin, 2001:176).
2.2 The communication between China and the West • The Silk Road • The Tea-horse Ancient Road • The Navigation Route
The Silk Road • The Silk Road, or Silk Route, refers to a trade route through regions of the Asian continent connecting East and West Asia. • Geographically, it is an interconnected series of ancient trade routes connecting Chang'an (today's Xi'an) to Europe and the Near East. • It was central to cultural transmission by linking traders, merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads and urban dwellers from China to the Mediterranean Sea for thousands of years.
The Tea-horse Ancient Road • For thousands of years, only humans and horses treaded the mountains of Southwest China as they followed an ancient pathway through the Chinese hinterlands and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. • Along the unpaved and rugged pathway that was formed, commodities like tea, salt and sugar flowed into Tibet. Meanwhile, horses, cows, furs, musk and other local products made their way to the outside world. The road was called the tea-horse ancient road, and it stretched across more than 4,000 kilometers, mainly through Southwest China’s Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
The Navigation Route • The “South-China Sea One” Ship • Zheng He’ Seven Voyages to the “West Sea”
昨晚11时30分许，半潜驳“重任1601”背着“南海Ⅰ号”沉箱，昨晚11时30分许，半潜驳“重任1601”背着“南海Ⅰ号”沉箱， 在距临时码头约1海里处，抛锚等待靠岸。 龙成通、王子恒、梁文栋 摄
The Nanhai One is a Chinesemerchant ship which sank off the south China coast during the Southern Song Dynasty between 1127 and 1279. • In 2007, China began to raise the ship and its artifacts. The ship will be placed in a pool-type container called the "Crystal Palace". The container is 64 meters long, 40 meters wide and 23 meters high. It contains seawater and is about 12 meters in depth. Visitors will be able to watch the ongoing excavation of the ship through windows on two sides of the pool.
Zheng He (traditional Chinese: 鄭和; simplified Chinese: 郑和; pinyin: Zhèng Hé; Wade-Giles: Cheng Ho; Birth name: 馬三寶/ 马三宝; pinyin: Mǎ Sānbǎo; Arabic/Persian name: حجّي محمود شمسHajji Mahmud Shams) (1371–1433), was a HuiChinese mariner, explorer, diplomat and fleet admiral, who made the voyages collectively referred to as the travels of "Eunuch Sanbao to the Western Ocean" (Chinese: 三保太監下西洋) or "Zheng He to the Western Ocean", from 1405 to 1433.
Comparison of Zheng He's larger ship to Columbus' displayed in the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai