UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland (CII) hosted a public lecture on international Chinese teaching on the evening of 28 May. At the event CII also launched its recently completed Teaching Pack for Junior Cycle Short Course in Chinese. Two keynote speakers, Prof Joël Bellassen from France, renowned expert of Chinese language and President of European Association for Chinese Teaching, and Dr Mingfang Li, principal lecturer of Chinese at Regent’s University London, delivered highly valuable lectures on international Chinese teaching for the Chinese teachers in the Emerald Isle. Director of the UCD CII Prof Liming Wang emceed the event.
Prof Wang and Mr Dominic McEvoy, Director of Kildare Education Centre and IACT (Irish Association of Chinese Teaching) Committee member, made a welcome address.
As a key part of the Irish government’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026, which was launched by Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton on 4 December, 2017, Chinese was added as a Leaving Certificate subject starting in 2020 with the first exam being in 2022. Another important event at the night was the launch of the Teaching Pack for Junior Cycle Short Course in Chinese.
In 2014 Chinese was introduced as a subject of Junior Cycle Short Course, i.e. Junior Cycle Short Course in Chinese. It will help foster an interest in Chinese learning among secondary school students and build a solid language foundation for their Leaving Certificate language examination. The teaching pack, an excellent junior cycle short Chinese course material, was in line with the requirements for modern foreign language teaching curriculum of the National Council for Curriculum, and was developed by the R&D team of UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland, mostly Chinese teachers and scholars from both China and Ireland.
The teaching pack covers beginners, intermediate and advanced levels with a total of 100 hours, and 70% of its content is language and 30% culture. There are 3 parts in each level: student’s workbook, teacher’s book and tests. A 20-minute promo video was played at the launch as an introduction to the Pack.
In his lecture entitled the Proper Position of Chinese: Fundamental Issue in the Methodology of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language, Prof Bellassen explained why the teaching of Chinese characters has been overlooked historically. He analysed the duality of the Chinese language –characters and words, how to better reflect the concept of balancing both characters and words while building a repertoire of words from characters in Chinese teaching materials. He believed that the teaching of Chinese characters deserves more attention in all aspects from Chinese teaching R&D to teaching itself and assessment. Prof Bellassen encouraged teachers to pay more attention to the frequency of usage and recurrence of Chinese characters when teaching communication skills.
In her lecture entitled the New Teaching Methodology: PTE in Teaching Words, Dr Mingfang Li introduced the term PTE as a new teaching theory to improve language teaching based on efficiency. It studies how to maximize learning results and quality by minimizing learning cost. She summarized the problems and challenges facing the current situation of teaching Chinese as a foreign language. With some case studies Prof Li demonstrated how to apply PTE and 3CA principle (communicative approach, contrastive analysis and culture awareness) in teaching Chinese words.
The Q&A session was filled with lively interaction between the speakers and the audience.
The event was co-hosted by UCD CII and UCD Irish Institute for Chinese Studies. Prof Xinsheng Zhang, Vice Chair of the European Association of Chinese Teaching, Mr Dawei Zhang, Head of the Education Section of the Chinese Embassy in Ireland, and Mr Wei Zhang, Chinese Director of UCD CII, attended the event together with nearly 200 audience including directors of Chinese teaching in secondary schools in Dublin, local Chinese teachers and UCD CII teachers and staff.
A picture was taken of the speakers and the organisers after the event.