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Francisco de Brito Coelho da Silva, Master's student in Information Systems

photo of Francisco de Brito Coelho da SilvaMy name is Francisco. I'm a Portuguese national and languages enthusiast currently studying for a Master's degree in Information Systems.

What was the first language you learned after your Mother Tongue?

The first language that I learned after my Mother Tongue was English. From the age of about six, my classmates and I started to study English because they taught it in our primary school. English is one of the subjects that we learn besides Portuguese, maths or sciences. This happens across all of the country. In the past English wasn’t mandatory in public schools, but now it is from an early age.

What other languages have you studied?

Besides English, I’ve studied French, Chinese and Catalan. Although I haven’t been to classes orHablas Espanol speech bubble spent time reading books like I have with the other languages, I’ve been able to pick up Spanish quite easily. Anytime I travelled to Spain I tried to learn some of the language and, thanks to the Erasmus+ programme, I went to study in Barcelona. So I had a huge amount of contact not only with the Spanish language, but also with the mother language of Barcelona, Catalan. I really like to listen to Spanish songs, which has also helped me to learn.

What are you studying now as your “main “subject?

image of world interlinking ITRight now, I am pursuing a Master's Degree in Information Systems, at the University of Minho.

Why did you choose to learn Chinese?

Actually it wasn't me who thought about learning Chinese, it was my father. I was in my last year of high school on my way home on the bus, and my father called me unexpectedly. He called to tell me that he’d heard an advertisement on the radio about the Confucius Institute and asked "Chico, do you want to study Mandarin Chinese?"  I was impressed, said "Okay, dad, hmm why not?!". He then told me I should go to the university where the Confucius Institute was based and sign up for the course.  And I went and I started! So, if it wasn't for him and that unexpected call, probably, right now I wouldn't be studying it. I guess I owe it to him.

What advantages do you think this will bring you both now and in image of globe showing Chinathe future?

To be honest, when I started learning Chinese I didn't think about it in this way. I was doing it (and I'm still doing it!) for fun, like a hobby. But as I get older and I start to think about my future, I’ve begun to view the Chinese language as a very useful "tool". Thanks to my knowledge of Chinese I’ve been able to travel to China to participate in a Chinese competition representing my country. This enabled me to learn more about the culture and life in China and allowed me to grow in different ways.

In the fimage of candidate with CVuture, I think having Chinese language skills will be a very strong differentiator in being chosen against other candidates. In my case, I'll do everything I can to combine my "main" subject and Mandarin. This will bring more opportunities, more chances to get what I want!

What top tip would you give anyone considering studying a language such as Chinese?

This the hardest question!  Well, my top tips to anyone considering studying a language such as Chinese:

First, try to view the experience as something you will appreciate. Look upon it as "I'm going to learn Chinese, so I'll be doing something that I like." Have the will to learn something new each day and try to appreciate the whole thing, which is very important. Never waste a second thinking about the difficulties that you will face during the whole time you’re image of graduate studying the language. We all face difficulties and being out of our comfort zone is very hard, but very useful in the end!

Second, invest in yourself. We are all in charge of our destiny, so if we want something, we should go for it. Don't give up until you achieve your goal. Learn, explore, do your best!

And third, remember this: how much more knowledge you gain, how much more you develop yourself, how many more differentiated qualifications you get. You're taking care of you, you're "opening more doors" for you, for your future! When I began to study English, a lot of people said that English is the international common language, and they were absolutely right! But now, I see things changing. Chinese is expanding everywhere, in every economy, in every business, in every corner too, so, in my opinion, the Chinese language will be a very useful language, a very chinese language dictionaryimportant way to communicate with the world! And those who know the language will be very prepared for what's coming...

Like the Chinese proverb says "千里之行,始于足下" ('A thousand mile journey begins with the first step'), so go ahead, take the first step. It will be worth it, you won't regret!


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