The University of Newcastle, Australia

Meet our Scholarship Recipients: Edward Munnings

Growing up in Taree on the mid-north coast of NSW, Edward Munnings enjoys wildlife, beaches, coffee and beer. An aspiring young man with a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management, he is also a Confucius Institute student and the winner of the 2015 Confucius Institute Scholarship. With the scholarship, Edward will go to China's prestigious Nanjing University to study Chinese for 6 months. On the eve of this exciting trip, Edward shares his story on learning Chinese and winning the CI scholarship.

Why do you want to learn Chinese?

In my first year of university, I started to realise the personal and professional benefits of having a second language. After studying and traveling in Asia, I decided to learn Chinese. Given China's massive size, population and economy, and its economic and geographic relationship with Australia, I think Chinese is a great choice. My interest in China's rich history and culture, and the potential opportunities to travel and work there, makes Chinese even more appealing to me.

What is your Chinese learning journey like?

I have been learning Chinese with the Confucius Institute on-and-off for just over a year now. I found that the reasonable pace and interactive approach made it a great starting point for me. I was able to get comfortable with the basics including tones, character strokes and sentence structures without the stress of assessments, which enabled me to do this alongside university. Given this, it also means that you get more out of the CI courses by doing some study and preparation outside of classes.

Is Chinese difficult? Any tips to share?

I find the pronunciation and the Chinese characters are quite challenging. I deal with the pronunciation by listening to conversations and practicing different sounds/words in isolation. I also routinely use flash-cards and 'look-cover-write-check'. Consistency is the key, because I have experienced a few times how quickly words and characters are forgotten after a couple of weeks without revision!

I am lucky to have a lot of Chinese friends with whom I can practice a little, and I think this is something that has really benefited my speaking. Learning tips? Speak, speak, and speak, at every opportunity. You'll find yourself saying sentences you didn't think you could. The things that I find help the most are hanging out with Chinese-speaking friends and reading passages aloud.

How did you get the CI Scholarship?

My teacher at the Confucius Institute told me about the scholarship and encouraged me to give it a try. Last year I took the HSK (listening, reading and writing) and HSKK (speaking) exams and luckily my scores were good enough to apply. The rest of the application process wasn't too difficult, especially with the great support from the Institute!

What's your plan with the scholarship?

This scholarship allows me to study one semester at Nanjing University in China. This will involve 5 months of full time Chinese study, where I really hope to see improvement in all aspects of my Chinese. If I find any spare time on weekends, I also want to visit other Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Wuhan and Beijing. It's a really exciting time for me, and I owe a huge thank-you to my family, friends and teachers who have helped me along the way.