Thai teacher instills passion for Mandarin after falling in love with Chinese culture
 updatetime:2024-04-03 18:18:12   Views:0 Source:China Daily


Pornpawee Sangchalin (left) assists a student during a Mandarin class at a school in Bangkok. YANG WANLI/CHINA DAILY

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Pornpawee Sangchalin, a fan of traditional Chinese attire with more than 210,000 followers on social media, is among thousands of young people in Thailand who have learned Mandarin and love Chinese culture.

Unlike others, she has been teaching Mandarin in a novel way, making learning more enjoyable.

"I combine both traditional and modern learning techniques such as computer word games in my teaching," she said, adding she shares with her students the latest fashion trends in the class.

On TikTok and Instagram, Pornpawee posts short videos on various topics related to Mandarin learning, Chinese culture and fashion trends. Her videos, which show her dressed up in traditional Chinese attire, or hanfu, make them stand out compared with many others online.

"Mandarin is like a key, helping me to open the door to understand China. The more I learn about China, the deeper my love grows for the country, including its food, history, culture and people," she said.

Having studied Chinese language and culture at the Huachiew Chalermprakiet University in Thailand, 35-year-old Pornpawee has been teaching Mandarin for more than 10 years. However, she developed a liking for the language at the age of 13.

In fact, she started learning Mandarin at that age after being "inspired by TV series Meteor Garden, which was a hit in Thailand then. I liked the drama so much that I could even remember some of the dialogues".

After that, she requested her parents to enroll her in a Mandarin program.

When she was in senior high school, Pornpawee made an important decision: she decided to pursue Mandarin instead of science. "My parents were hoping I would become a doctor. But I knew I loved Mandarin and wanted to pursue it as a profession in the future."

During the final year of her senior high school, Pornpawee passed level 5 of the Chinese proficiency test, or HSK5, an international standardized test of Chinese language proficiency for nonnative Chinese speakers.

While she was at the university, she visited China for the first time as an exchange student. The one year she spent in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region made a deep impact on her.

"My parents were so worried about my food that they prepared a large pack of Thai instant noodles as well as chili sauce for me," she said. Pornpawee, however, said she kept Thai noodles away because "Chinese cuisine is so delicious".

The China trip was beyond her expectations. "I was surprised by the size of its population. People were everywhere and it was crowded even in small towns," she said.

Impressed by diversity

"It's just the opposite in Thailand, where you will see fewer people in suburbs," Pornpawee said, noting she was impressed by the diversity of Chinese culture and hospitality of the people.

Before traveling to China, Pornpawee had only heard of a few Chinese dishes, such as hot pot and jiaozi. "You will be amazed by the variety of ingredients, the taste and the Chinese way of cooking," she said.

"Chinese people are very kind to foreigners. During my stay in Guangxi, my Chinese friends and their families always took care of me well and kept asking whether I could understand what they were saying and whether I had got used to the life and the food," she recalled.

Pornpawee's parents traveled to China for the first time when she was studying at the university. "They had previously believed Chinese people speak so loudly that it sounds like they are fighting," she said with a laugh. "But that's a lively rhythm of people's lives."

In recent years, she said more young people in Thailand are trying to learn more about China through social media, movies and TV dramas. "The web series, The Untamed and Love Between Fairy and Devil, are popular among the younger generation in Thailand," she said.

The young people are fascinated by Chinese culture and they love hanfu as she does. "Hanfu is flourishing in Thailand, breathing life into ancient traditions and fostering a deep sense of appreciation for China's rich cultural legacy."

Driven by the two nations' close relations and curiosity about China, Pornpawee said more Thai people want to learn Mandarin and visit the country.

"My followers on social media have kept increasing and some local schools have invited me to hold special Mandarin classes for students. In the class, I was inspired by students whose questions drove me to learn more about China," she said.

In the past decade, Pornpawee has visited several Chinese cities. "China is a large country with great diversity and can hardly be described in a few words," she said.

In mid-March, Pornpawee traveled to China's eastern provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu with her Thai friends and returned on Wednesday.

"We dressed up in hanfu, taking pictures at all the famous tourist sites in the ancient cities. My trip to China will never end and I'd like to introduce more places in China to Thai people," she added.

By YANG WANLI in Bangkok 

Web Editor:MXJ