[Expats in Beijing] Chinese is the kids’ first language

2017-09-25 10:17 千龙网

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Georg Hoffmann-Kuhnt works in a German prosthetics company in Beijing. [Photo provided to Qianlong]

Leaving his home in Changping’s suburb at seven a.m., Georg Hoffmann-Kuhnt drives all the way to Beijing. First he drops off the kids at kindergarten and then his wife in the workplace before he finally comes to his company near Jiuxianqiao and starts a busy workday. After work, he picks up the kids together with his wife and drives another 65 kilometers back to his home in Changping. It is often eight o’clock p.m. when the family comes home. Seemingly there is not much difference in the daily life between Hoffmann-Kuhnt and other office workers.

Ten years ago, Hoffmann-Kuhnt happened to get a position with a German prosthetics company in China and he came to Beijing from Germany. At that time his brother was working in Beijing and with his help Hofmann-Kuhnt adapted to the life in Beijing more smoothly than most foreigners.

Despite this, Hoffmann-Kuhnt still met a big problem – the Chinese language. Now he has no problem with everyday Chinese expressions – the result of two years’ constant and costly learning. In his words, “Finally I could survive with Chinese.” Hoffmann-Kuhnt admits that he still couldn’t read or write Chinese characters and when it comes to signs written in Chinese his wife would become the “translator”.

Talking about his wife and family, Hoffmann-Kuhnt said happily, “At the very beginning, she helped me a lot like renting a car and booking tickets. Then I invited her to dinner to thank her. Later we started playing tennis together and got closer with each other.” Four years later, they got married.

Today the couple has two lovely kids. Like many parents, Hoffmann-Kuhnt’s profile picture is a photo of his son.

Georg Hoffmann-Kuhnt takes a photo with his family. [Photo provided to Qianlong]

Due to work, Hoffmann-Kuhnt travels a lot. As the technical director of the company’s branches in China and the Philippines, he not only provides designs for the workshop staff but also offers hands-on technical training for rehabilitation workers in other cities and engages himself in patient care.

Although Hoffmann-Kuhnt often has a busy schedule, he would like to spend time with the kids when he is free. They would build train tracks and play Lego and other games together.

The activities in Hoffmann-Kuhnt’s spare time also centers on the kids. The couple would take them to parks, go swimming and horse-riding, watch piying, and listen to concerts. He said, “Chinese is their first language. Their second language is German and then English. We will send them to local school until they learn perfect reading and writing in Chinese before sending them to international school.”

Georg Hoffmann-Kuhnt takes a photo with his children. [Photo provided to Qianlong]

Two years ago, the family moved their home to the mountain area in Changping. It takes them more commuting time but they enjoy the fresh air of the suburb.

Hoffmann-Kuhnt is proud of his “big wooden house”, “I designed the house… We won’t sell it, if we go somewhere else. In the future, if we want to come back, there is always a home in Beijing.”

Georg Hoffmann-Kuhnt takes a photo with his children. [Photo provided to Qianlong]

As for the changes occurred in Beijing in the past ten years, Hoffmann-Kuhnt mentioned, “The development is fast. The streets are cleaner and the city is more organized. There are more shopping centers and restaurants to go. And the living cost is becoming much more expensive compared to that ten years ago. The air pollution got worse. It takes time to change the situation in spite of the efforts made by the government.”

“Beijing is also losing some of its old and unique things. Some traditional things are disappearing for they are not protected well.” “In Germany we also have many traditional things. Some music is three hundred years old but people still love it. The old things have value and people should recognize this and treasure their tradition.”

责任编辑:Ai Ting(QN0043)  作者:Lu Qing

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