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Classical Chinese in Education

CultureBooksClassical Chinese in Education

Chinese students are required to learn classical Chinese in senior school for several reasons, including cultural heritage, linguistic tradition, and academic preparation.

Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese or Wenyanwen, refers to the written language used in ancient China, particularly during the pre-Qin period (before 221 BCE) and the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). It is characterized by its concise, elegant, and poetic style, and it served as the language of scholarship, literature, and government for centuries. Despite the development of modern Chinese since the 20th century, classical Chinese still holds a significant place in Chinese culture and education, and its study is considered an essential component of Chinese education.

One reason for the continued importance of classical Chinese in senior school is cultural heritage. China has a rich literary and intellectual tradition that spans over two thousand years, and classical Chinese is a critical part of that tradition. Learning classical Chinese allows students to appreciate the beauty and richness of classical literature, such as the Confucian classics, Tang poetry, and Song prose. By studying classical Chinese, students can connect with their cultural roots and gain a deeper understanding of Chinese history, philosophy, and values.

Another reason for the study of classical Chinese is linguistic tradition. Classical Chinese differs significantly from modern Chinese in terms of grammar, vocabulary, and syntax. It uses a vast array of literary devices, such as allusions, metaphors, and parallelism, that are not commonly used in modern Chinese. Learning classical Chinese helps students develop a deeper understanding of the Chinese language and improves their reading and writing skills. It also allows students to read and appreciate classical Chinese literature in its original form, rather than relying on translations.

In addition to cultural heritage and linguistic tradition, the study of classical Chinese in senior school also prepares students for academic success. Many important academic texts, such as historical records, philosophical treatises, and literary masterpieces, are written in classical Chinese. By mastering classical Chinese, students can access a vast corpus of knowledge and develop the skills necessary for advanced scholarship in fields such as history, literature, and philosophy.

Moreover, the study of classical Chinese is also crucial for students who wish to pursue careers in areas such as law, government, and diplomacy, as these fields often require a deep understanding of Chinese culture, history, and language. In particular, knowledge of classical Chinese is necessary for understanding and interpreting ancient legal codes and documents, as well as traditional Chinese diplomatic and literary texts.

In conclusion, the study of classical Chinese in senior school is essential for preserving Chinese cultural heritage, maintaining linguistic tradition, and preparing students for academic and professional success. It allows students to connect with their cultural roots, deepen their understanding of the Chinese language and literature, and gain access to a vast corpus of knowledge. Therefore, the continued emphasis on classical Chinese in senior school is an important part of Chinese education and culture.

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