When language is not enough: Chinese broadcaster Kevin Sui delivers prestigious University of Birmingham lecture

In this year’s China Institute Li Siguang Distinguished Lecture, renowned international broadcaster Kevin Sui will explore how understanding culture is more important than being proficient in each other’s languages if China and the UK want to grow closer.

The long time journalist and media owner, who is also Controller of China Hour on Sky channel 192, will deliver his talk ‘China UK Cross-cultural communication: A media and language observation’ online at 19.00 GMT on Thursday, 19 November 2020.

Kevin will explore how media outlets and the English language are vital in bringing people in China and the UK together - but not without an in-depth understanding of people and culture in each society.

His lecture will be followed by a panel discussion involving Mr Sui and a range of University of Birmingham speakers:

  • Prof Jon Frampton - Deputy Pro-vice Chancellor (China) and Director of China Institute;
  • Dr Berny Sèbe - Head of Internationalisation, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music;
  • Dr John Goodyear -Lecturer, English as a Modern Foreign Language; and
  • Shiyu He - Postgraduate Researcher in Linguistics.

Kevin Sui commented: "The closer relationship between China and the West including Britain in the past four decades has witnessed massive exchanges in terms of trade, investment, culture, and personnel. People from China and the UK are benefiting from the ever stronger connection, which won’t be possible without the help of language.

“English is the most popular foreign language among students in China and now we have more than a hundred thousand Chinese students coming to study in the UK every year. On the UK side, there are also more British students learning Chinese. At least 5,000 secondary school students will achieve fluency in Mandarin this year.’

He added that ability to speak a language was the key to communicating with another country, but language proficiency on its own was not enough - recommending that all foreign language learners dived deeper into the culture of the country in question.

Professor Jon Frampton commented: “We’re looking forward to hearing Kevin’s exploration of the cultural and language differences between the UK and China, together with his insights as a renowned international broadcaster on how our countries can grow closer together.

“The University of Birmingham has long-established and valued links with China and we are proud of our growing reputation in China - both for delivering high-quality education and research partnerships with a global impact.’

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