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University of Oklahoma's Chinese Crosstalk program embraces cultural nuances

University of Oklahoma's Chinese Crosstalk program promotes language with an emphasis on comedy, cultural nuances.
BY LI LIN Modified: July 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm •  Published: July 25, 2012

It's after hours at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, and several students from the University of Oklahoma file into the building through the staff entrance.

They are not here for dinosaurs or the indigenous landscapes the museum offers. They are here for Chinese.

The program is called Chinese Crosstalk, coordinated by OU's Confucius Institute.

Chinese Crosstalk is traditional Chinese comedic performance that involves dialogues and sometimes monologues, infused with Chinese puns and allusions.

Sharon Gou, director of the Confucius Institute, said the purpose is to introduce the Chinese language and cultural nuances through comedy.

The class consists of learners from the community — a married couple who hosted exchange students at OU and who are preparing for a trip to China; a local high school student; a student from Oklahoma City Community College; a Chinese doctoral student studying linguistics; and a librarian, among others.

Class instructor Chen Wu, who has a degree in economics, learned Chinese Crosstalk as a child and thinks it is important to introduce and promote his language and culture.

Wu said he hopes students will learn vocabularies and sentences that can be useful when they visit China.

Secondly, he hopes to capture the essence of Chinese humor, which is rooted in the teachings of the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius.

“The students are highly motivated. I am quite enjoying teaching this class,” Wu said.

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