Masters student adds another language to her listAn LSBU student undertaking MSc International Human Resources, Patricia Denis is well-travelled with a clear interest in developing her international awareness
A French national who speaks fluent English as well as Spanish and German, she has also spent a year working in India.
Before joining the course, she had three years of professional experience in Business Development for a Human Resources consultancy and wanted to switch to the role of in-house HR professional.
After looking for a human resources degree with an international dimension, Patricia enrolled on a double Master's degree run in partnership between LSBU and IGS Paris. She was interested in understanding human resources management from both English and French perspectives, and had heard that LSBU was a very good university.
This continued interest in evolving in an international professional environment was picked up by Patricia's lecturers, and her course director John Opute told her about the Confucius Institute. "I knew about the German and French equivalents," she recalls, "and that cultural institutions like the Confucius Institute are a great platform to learn a language and learn about the culture too."
As an experienced speaker of foreign languages, Patricia found some elements of Mandarin to be surprisingly easy to pick up. "The grammar is actually very easy, as there are very few verbs as they do not need to change to affect the tense," she explains. "It is quite a logical language, where the words are made up of pieces that make sense when placed together."
Enthusiasm and support
Patricia found the enthusiasm and support of the teaching staff helped her come to terms with the language and culture quite quickly. "They were really nice, and worked hard to keep my interest level high," she explains. "They answered all of our questions about Chinese culture and were helpful and supportive throughout my studies at HSK (Chinese language proficiency test preparation) level 1 and 2."
It was this combination of cultural understanding and language development that Patricia most valued from her studies at the Confucius Institute.
I see language as a window opened towards a new culture.
"China is such a different world from mine, but thanks to the Confucius Institute I can now use basic sentences and understand Chinese culture. This has enabled me to connect with Chinese employees at the multi-national company I joined once the academic year had ended, and I hope I'll have the opportunity to enhance my knowledge of China and Chinese in the future."
As a student committed to developing a truly international skillset and outlook, Patricia is quick to recommend undertaking a Mandarin course at the Confucius Institute, and is keen to point out that the language is not as impenetrable as it might appear at first. "Be persistent," she says. "After a few lessons, you will be able to make sentences and enjoy learning this new language."
Patricia is also of the opinion that investing time outside of the lessons can also be key to understanding new languages and cultures. "I would always advise people to attend as many of the events organised by the Confucius Institute, as it is the best way to get a feel of the Chinese culture," she says. It's sound advice, especially coming from a woman who has made global awareness and development at the very core of her learning.