Shengwen Cao

As a young entrepreneur, Shengwen Cao was drawn to study Cantonese at ANU for many reasons. As a business owner and aspiring teacher, proficiency in one of Australia’s most widely spoken languages gives him an edge in both professions.

However, he also discovered Cantonese has given him a unique window into his own culture.

"As a native Mandarin speaker, I wanted to learn more about China from a different perspective," he said.

Throughout his studies, Shengwen has operated a successful mobile phone accessory and repair store in Gungahlin, where Cantonese is the fourth-most spoken language after English.

Shengwen chose to study Cantonese at ANU via the cross-institutional pathway. It’s a popular choice for students at other Australian universities where language minors aren’t available.

"It’s very important to have life experience as a teacher, and studying Cantonese fits into this philosophy for me. It’s given me a more well-rounded perspective and broadened my career prospects in a business sense," said Shengwen, a Bachelor of Arts/Education student at the University of Canberra.

"No matter what background you have, the more languages you speak, the more opportunities you have. This is especially true in a society like Australia. Language is not just a tool for communication, but also for observing information in teaching, learning and other aspects of life."

Small class sizes and high levels of student interaction make Cantonese a rewarding language to learn, said Shengwen.

"Even though Cantonese has more tones than Mandarin, I’ve had non-Chinese friends tell me Cantonese is an easier gateway into Chinese culture. Even after taking Cantonese 1 and 2, I feel I can understand around 70 per cent of conversations with friends," he said.

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team