First Spanish Day in Taiwan aimed at promoting language, culture
Taipei, March 17 (CNA) Foreign embassies and representative offices launched Taiwan's first "Spanish Day" in Taipei Saturday to celebrate the world's second-most-spoken language and its cultural heritage, as well as raise interest among local high school students in learning Spanish.
"All Latin American countries and countries in which Spanish is spoken support this kind of important celebration in Taipei," Marcial Bobadilla Guillén, ambassador of the Republic of Paraguay, told CNA.
Paraguay, along with Taiwan's five other diplomatic allies in Latin America -- El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic -- are members of the campaign initiated by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Taipei to instigate the day.
The project to promote Spanish started six months ago, which also won support from representative offices from countries such as Chile, Peru, Mexico and the United States.
Jesse Curtis, public diplomacy section chief of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) which represents the United States interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, said he has noticed an increasing popularity in Spanish learning in Taiwan, which he said is good, because it provides more opportunities for countries that speak the language to develop a natural affinity with Taiwan.
According to the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, there are about 2,500 students with Spanish as their major in universities in Taiwan, with a further 2,000 students taking it as a second foreign language course.
Although interest in learning Spanish is growing in Taiwan's higher education system, Manuel Lago, secretary-general of the chamber, told CNA that there remains a gap to fill among high school students.
Considering that the world's Spanish-speaking population, which is about 548 million people, the popularity of the language has not yet received enough attention in Taiwan's high schools compared with other European languages such as French and German, Lago said.
"It is a little awkward," he told CNA, stressing that "this is the right moment" to promote Spanish, as Taiwan's education ministry is encouraging high schools to offer second-foreign language courses for their students.
The Spanish Day, which takes place at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park on Saturday and Sunday, will offer an array of cultural events, including a Spanish speaking contest, screenings of Spanish-language movies and performances of art and dance.
Admission is free. For more information, go to http://new.songshanculturalpark.org/Exhibition.aspx?ID= f99348d6-0dc0-4e63-9f94-0c3438838a26
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