UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland (CII) and UCD Irish Institute for Chinese Studies (IICS) jointly hosted an open day for the Masters and Diploma in Teaching Chinese on April 29th, 2017. The Chinese Teachers Association of Ireland (CTAI) launched their inaugural issue of the Magazine in Chinese Teaching. The event was attended by more than 70 people including local Chinese teachers from Ireland, Chinese teachers from Hanban, students of the Diploma and MA in Teaching Chinese as well as CTAI members.
A recent article in The Irish Times broke the news that the Department of Education & Skills had listed Chinese language as a Leaving Cert curriculum subject in its 10 years’ strategic plan. UCD CII and UCD IICS developed a plan for Chinese teachers’ training programmes as early as 2012. The two Institutes launched the Diploma in Chinese Teaching in 2014, with the support of Hanban and UCD. The purpose of the degree course is to train local Irish teachers and speed up the localisation of Chinese language and culture teaching in Ireland. There have been three enrolments since it started, with its first batch of students graduating at the end of 2017, receiving a MA in Chinese teaching. The open day and the launch of the Chinese teaching magazine were aimed at sharing the learning and teaching experience of the Chinese teachers and students and facilitating the inclusion of Chinese as a Leaving Cert curriculum subject.
Director of UCD CII Professor Liming Wang delivered an opening address. He first shared the exciting news of the planned inclusion of Chinese as a Leaving Cert subject. He also reiterated the significance of promoting Chinese language and culture based on Sino-Irish long-term strategic cooperation and partnership. Professor Wang pointed out that Brexit and fast growing trade and investment between China and Ireland had presented many challenges as well as opportunities, and this had become a key factor driving the promotion of Chinese language and culture in Ireland. According to Professor Wang, Chinese, as the only surviving pictogram-based language of the four great ancient languages, is not only a beautiful language, but learning this language would have a positive correlation with learning other subjects, such as Mathematics. The development of Sino-Irish economic and trade relations will require more talented people with Chinese language skills in the future.
Professor Wang’s speech was followed by a teaching demonstration from two students currently doing the Professional Diploma and MA in Teaching Chinese language and Culture. They also shared their learning experience with the Chinese teachers at the event. Gary Hodgins decided to learn Chinese as he fell in love with Chinese martial arts and taichi, and his passion for learning the language has grown enormously. Mr. Hodgins demonstrated a fun-filled and easy-to-understand class of Chinese characters. His interesting class design and lively video and pictures made the teaching of the most difficult part of the Chinese language - Chinese characters a lot easier. From pictograms to ideographs, Mr. Hodgins turned each Chinese character into a vivid picture and enchanting story.
Ms Chiara Casey shared her story of learning Chinese. As a Chinese learner, teacher and mother, she lives a busy and fulfilling life. As the graduation date approaches, she feels lucky that she’s chosen this path. She said that the sense of achievement and confidence was enormous when she could understand a Chinese sentence. She has learned a new language, but more importantly, she’s learned Chinese culture and history, made new friends, and her studying in Beijing Language and Culture University has become one of her favourite memories. Her demo Chinese teaching class not only proved her capabilities but also convinced the audience of the important role that the MA course plays in upgrading teachers’ knowledge and teaching abilities.
Finally, the President of the Chinese Teachers Association of Ireland, Ms. Siobhán Kelly presented the Association’s first issue of its Magazine, ‘Hello China’. Ms. Kelly expressed her sincere thanks to those who have made great efforts on this project. She hoped that the Magazine would act as a platform on which teachers could share their teaching resources as well as experience. She believes that the Magazine will become a window through which teachers and academics shall obtain information and exchange ideas on teaching and learning Chinese in Ireland.