Boy standing next to letter box

Hello, China. Hello, World! - Greetings from the United Kingdom

Hello, my name is Toby and I’m nine years old this year. I live in Sheffield, England, and I am learning Chinese. Do you know why?

When I was five years old, I suddenly had an idea that I wanted to write a letter to people from every country of the world asking them how their lives were like. In the following months, I wrote more than 200 letters. Before I wrote each letter, I would learn about the country and its people with my mother so that I could ask them questions that related to their lives. When I was writing my letter to China, I found it to be a very beautiful country and I wanted to know more about it.

My first letter to China was sent to Diwei in Hong Kong, who replied in both Chinese and English. I was amazed and curious to read Diwei’s Chinese letter. Chinese culture fascinated me deeply and appealed to me greatly. English and Chinese postcard

Boy learning Chinese

In the summer when I was six years old, I participated in a one-week Chinese school program organized by the Confucius Institute at the University of Sheffield (Sheffield Confucius Institute). The program aimed to promote children’s understanding of China and help them learn Chinese language. It was a great week, and I liked being there. I learned about Chinese painting, paper cutting, dancing and handcrafting. I watched videos and learnt Chinese too. I also learnt to say numbers and animals (like dog, cat, etc.) in Chinese. Furthermore, I could express “I love my mother”, “I love my father” and “My name is Toby” in Chinese.

After that, I wished I could further my study in Chinese. Just then, the “Star Mandarin School” organized by Sheffield Confucius Institute (SCI) happened to start classes on Saturdays. So I started to learn Chinese there formally. At first, it was a little bit difficult for me to learn Chinese, because I knew none of the Chinese characters. Staring at those sentences, I couldn’t get a clue about any characters in the sentences. But gradually I started to know more about the language. I prefer reading and writing, as spoken Chinese is a little difficult for me, but I’m still making progress. I’m going to attend the Youth Chinese Test Level 3 (YCT3) in this October. Now my mum is also learning Chinese at the institute, so we can work hard together.

While studying Chinese, I continue to write letters to China because I want to know more about it. I hope that one day I can go to China to see in person the Terra-Cotta Warriors, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Sometimes I write some Chinese sentences in my letters. I even tried to write a whole letter in Chinese. Of course, I need to look up some Chinese characters in the dictionary.

Chinese writing

I have written so far more than 1000 letters. Last year, these letters were collected and then published in a book here in the UK, entitled Dear World, How Are You? Now, its Chinese version, “《亲爱的世界,你好呀》”,is about to come out and I am really looking forward to reading it in Chinese. Furthermore, I do love Chinese learning and hope that one day I could communicate with you in excellent Chinese and explore the world together with you.

Toby's book