First Mauritanian Chinese teacher: Chinese is as important as English and French
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Mohamed/Foreign Director of the Confucius Institute in Mauritania

Spring Festival. Qingming Festival.


This is not in mainland China. This is a Chinese class in Mauritania, West Africa. These students are diligently learning Chinese, and the instructor is Mohamed, the first local inhabitant in Mauritania who becomes a Chinese teacher. He is also the foreign director of the one and only Confucius Institute in Mauritania.


Mohamed/Foreign Director of the Confucius Institute in Mauritania

At the beginning, neither did I know much about Chinese nor China. My teacher of a Chinese class sponsored by the government explained to me that "I believe that if you learn Chinese, you will have a bright future." I was then started learning Chinese, although I found it difficult at the time. Written Chinese is very different from spoken Chinese. But in Arabic, what you say is related to what you write. But I did put a lot of effort in it and got a scholarship for going to study in China. Since then, I have kept learning Chinese. I am the first native teacher in Mauritania who teaches Chinese.


A remark made by his teacher at that time made Mohamed forge an indissoluble bond with the Chinese language. After graduating from the Chinese Language Department at the University of Nouakchott, he went to China to study for nine years, when he got a master's degree and a doctoral degree at Hebei University. He later returned to his homeland to teach what he had learned. 


Mohamed/Foreign Director of the Confucius Institute in Mauritania

Chinese has been taught in Mauritania since 1987 and at the beginning there were few Chinese learners, like only two or three students in one class. Now, Chinese teachers are in great demand, because of large number of students who want to learn it, say, about 300 or 400.


Many students want to study in China for a Master or PhD degree or learn something else. The whole world knows Chinese is as important as French and English. Many students believe that "If I learn Chinese, I might have a chance to find a job."


Mauritania's economy is lagging behind with its per capita GDP only about one-twentieth of Hong Kong's. China has long been Mauritania's largest trading partner. Many local young people believe that learning Chinese can improve their lives and change their destiny.


Omar/Student of Confucius Institute in Mauritania

I want to go to China. I plan to work there.


Mohamed/Student of Confucius Institute in Mauritania

China will help my home country because China is a big country. China will help us attract investment for developing my country.


Hebei University has cooperated with the University of Nouakchott to establish the Confucius Institute in 2019, which provides free Chinese courses, Chinese proficiency tests, scholarships, introduction to Chinese culture, and promotes exchanges between the people of the two countries. 


Mohamed/Foreign Director of the Confucius Institute in Mauritania

The relationship between China and Mauritania has a long history from 1965 to the present. We have a sustainable and good relationship with China. So we, as Mauritanian people, need to understand China and learn more about Chinese culture. Many people have realised the importance of it, so they want to learn Chinese. Because of the Belt and Road Initiative and related projects, many Chinese companies come and start businesses here, which helps to develop Mauritania’s economy. Because of China’s economic development and China’s importance in the world, here are more and more Mauritanians learning Chinese.

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