Confucius Institutes face uphill battle in development (2)

13:33, May 31, 2011      

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Compiling textbooks

It is difficult to compile Chinese textbooks because of the differences in culture and language systems. For instance, students in some countries have different traditional customs to ask questions in the classroom such as "What is the occupation of your parents?" or "How old are you?" Therefore, some proposed that textbooks should be localized. However, some others believe that Spain's Cervantes Institute and Germany's Goethe institute both compile textbooks according to their own customs in order to help foreigners learn and understand their culture. Hanban is still researching whether to localize textbooks or adhere to China's traditional culture.

According to sources, the China-Thailand cooperation on compiling teaching material has a relatively long history. Currently, Thailand has listed basic Chinese textbooks that were jointly published by China and Thailand in its national teaching materials system and teaching programs. The series of textbooks titled "Experiencing Chinese" was jointly compiled and published by China's Higher Education Press and the Basic Education Commission under Thailand's Ministry of Education. They highlight the local characteristics of Thailand and have entered in primary and secondary classrooms in Thailand. Thailand's experience shows that the localization of Chinese teaching materials should become a trend, and Hanban and some colleges in China should conduct systematic studies on this issue.

Relieving concerns

Chinese language teaching is about spreading Chinese language, history and culture. The promotion of Chinese is still sensitive to a certain degree in some neighboring countries due to the impact of certain historical issues. According to sources, although Chinese language learning has seen an upsurge in India and Vietnam in recent years and various colleges and language schools also offer Chinese courses, the Confucius Institute has not yet been able to establish itself in these two neighboring countries.
According to sources, as various colleges in Vietnam offer many Chinese courses and many foreign language training centers in Vietnam also offer Chinese courses, it is very convenient for Vietnamese youth to learn Chinese. Therefore, there is no urgent demand for Confucius Institutes in Vietnam. However, some universities that have a department of Chinese language hope to cooperate with China to establish Confucius Institutes as soon as possible in order to promote their Chinese language teaching level and cultivate senior Chinese language teaching talent. Meanwhile, they also hope to obtain China's financial support through the cooperation.

Officials from the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Republic of India said that currently, the embassy has received dozens of phone calls from local citizens asking about Chinese courses almost every week, and some people have also asked about the Confucius Institute. However, India's official attitude towards the proposal of establishing Confucius Institutes in various major educational institutions has been negative.

The establishment of Confucius Institutes is actually a form of public diplomacy. The Confucius Institute can enhance the international influence of China as well as foreigners' understanding towards China. The Confucius Institute can be considered as the one of the best platforms for "people to people" exchanges between China and foreign countries.

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