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CAS sophomore in finals of Chinese Competition

TAMPA, Fla. -- University of South Florida sophomore Victor Florez finished second in the lastest round of competition in the “Chinese Bridge” Competition and now moves on to compete in the finals with just six remaining contestants. Six contestants were eliminated this week during the nationally televised event from Shanghai.

The annual “Chinese Bridge” Competition for Foreign College Students brings contestants from 62 countries together to compete in Chinese language proficiency and cultural performance. In its 9th year, 107 contestants took the stage to compete in the semi-finals held in Changsha, China.

In this latest event, judges raved about the difficulty level of Florez's tongue twister. The next competition for the remaining six contestants is scheduled to take place next week.

View a video clip from the competition here.

Each competitor has to prepare for three five-minute events: a speech with the subject “China and Me,” a series of questions on Chinese culture where participants must respond in Chinese, and a talent performance associated with Chinese culture. Florez is an International Studies major, and is currently in his fourth semester of Chinese Language preparation.

A partnership between USF Education Abroad, World Languages, and the Confucius Institute is creating a pipeline of opportunities for students to learn Chinese language and culture both on campus and abroad.

Under the guidance of Eric Shepherd, students begin language and culture classes at USF through the Confucius Institute and department of World Languages. Courses include: Modern Chinese 1 which focuses on basic language skills including pronunciation, listening, comprehension, speaking, and composition; A History of China; Business Chinese; and Chinese Cinema. Shepherd uses a “performed culture” approach that requires students to perform appropriately in different cultural contexts. These performances are repeated multiple times so that the language and behaviors are memorized. This teaching method is so successful that Hanban, a public Chinese institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education, has requested USF to submit a proposal for a teacher training program so that Chinese teachers can learn how USF is achieving such results.

Once the students have completed Chinese 1 and 2 they are eligible to go on USF Education Abroad’s Chinese Learning in the Culture Program - Tier I in Qingdao, China. This is an intensive intermediate language program where students live with Chinese students, interact with the community, and take part in social activities. This is the first level of a 3-tiered program that Shepherd and Education Abroad have put together. Tier II is a 10-week summer program where students will complete an internship to use their Chinese language skills in a Chinese business or organization. Tier III is a year-long program where students will study at Nankai University for six months and then complete an internship for six months, as well. Victor Florez, Misty Sirine (a senior and International Studies major), and Samantha Ashworth (a senior and International Business major) are currently in Tier II and will be the first USF students to attend the Tier III capstone experience in the fall. These three students were selected by the USF Confucius Institute to receive full scholarships for their Tier III program.

USF’s collaboration with Nankai University goes back more than 20 years. The universities are active partners in research and student exchange. The Confucius Institute at the University of South Florida is a collaborative effort between China's Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) and Nankai University to bring language and culture opportunities to USF and the Tampa Bay community.

To find out more about the global opportunities at USF, visit

Filed under:Arts and Sciences World Languages Student Success School of Humanities  
Author: USF News