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Chinese monks get formal English training at university in Shanghai

Xinhua, June 28, 2009

SHANGHAI, China -- A group of Chinese monks, most of whom hold bachelor's and even master's degrees, completed an eight-month English training course at a Shanghai language university Saturday and were awarded certificates.

The 22 monks, all from monasteries in the Chinese mainland, studied English language skills and attended Buddhism classes given in English at the Shanghai International Studies University (SISU).

It was the first time in China that a university provided formal foreign language training to monks.

Sheng Jianyuan, director of the teaching and research office of the training department at SISU, told Xinhua Sunday that the idea of the program came up last summer, when monks across the country gathered in Shanghai for an English speaking contest.

"Increasing exchanges between China's Buddhist circle and its overseas counterparts mean Chinese monks need better English skills," Sheng said.

The language classes were given by teachers in SISU and the Buddhism classes were taught by instructors from the Buddhism research center of the University of Hong Kong.

Tuition was covered by the Shanghai Buddhist Association.

The monks also translated for the second World Buddhist Forum at end of March and beginning of April. That forum opened in Wuxi of east China's Jiangsu Province and concluded in Taipei.


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