The 2nd International Symposium of the European Association for Chinese Teaching (EACT) was successfully held in UCD Ireland from April 12 to 13, 2019. More than 200 scholars and educators of Chinese language from 22 countries and regions attended the symposium, which was hosted by EACT and organised by its Irish branch together with the UCD Confucius Institute (CII) for Ireland. Participants had round-table, plenary and panel discussions around the theme of ‘Regional and International Features in the subject development of Teaching Chinese as a Second Language’.
UCD CII Director Dr Liming Wang hosted the opening ceremony, which was held in the UCD O’Reilly Hall on the afternoon of the 12th. Among the guests at the ceremony were Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Political Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Ireland Mr Huang He, EACT President and renowned Chinese linguist and educator Prof Joël Bellassen, and UCD Vice President of Global Engagement Professor Dolores O’Riordan.
Minister O'Connor said in her opening speech that Ireland is playing an increasingly important role in European affairs both financially and technologically, which demonstrates the importance of multilingual education in Ireland and against this backdrop Chinese was introduced as a subject for Ireland's secondary school transition year, Junior Cycle short course, and the Leaving Certificate, which was a crucial step. She emphasized the importance of Chinese teacher-training and expressed her hope to see continuous cooperation between Ireland and China in language, culture and education, to benefit children and youth from both countries.
Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O'Connor speaks at the opening ceremony
Political Councilor of the Chinese Embassy in Ireland Mr Huang He said that the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership provides us with opportunities to jointly maintain peace, promote common growth, reform and dialogue among civilizations. The widening of people-to-people exchange and cooperation is a shared aspiration of both countries. Scientific and technological development and social progress have created a better environment for teaching Chinese language and promoting Chinese culture. With growing demand for Chinese learning and the deepening of exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and European people in a wide variety of fields, Chinese language-teaching in Europe will see better opportunities and further growth.
Political Councilor of the Chinese Embassy in Ireland Mr Huang speaks at the opening ceremony
President of ECTA Prof Bellassen gave his insights in the development of Chinese language as a subject. He said that the uniqueness of Chinese language and Chinese characters determines that teaching Chinese as a second language involves the teaching of the language and its script, so direct comparison to the way other languages are communicated is almost impossible. Currently Chinese is taught and promoted mainly in primary and secondary schools, which has significant importance, so Chinese will see a greater future.
Prof Joël Bellassen speaks at the opening ceremony
UCD Vice President for global engagement Prof O’Riordan said that China's improving international status has seen exchange between Ireland and China increase immensely, and language is the carrier of cultural and economic exchanges. UCD has close ties and collaboration with a number of Chinese universities, and exchange between students of both countries is frequent. UCD offers several Chinese-related programmes. The new UCD CII building also provides first-class facilities and an excellent environment for students to learn Chinese.
UCD Vice President of Global Engagement Professor Dolores O’Riordan speaks at the opening ceremony
All the participants had a group photo taken after the opening ceremony.
Group photo of all the participants
Prior to the opening ceremony, European scholars and experts had a round-table session with representatives of relevant Irish government agencies and members of the Executive Committee of the Irish Association for Chinese Teaching. They exchanged views on the current situation of Chinese teaching in France, Germany, Britain, Spain, Switzerland and Ireland, including the lack of qualified Chinese teachers, the Chinese teaching curriculum, Chinese textbooks and syllabus.
More than 80 scholars presented their latest research results during the two-day conference. The following topics were discussed around the theme of the conference: ‘Problems facing the development of Chinese as a subject in Europe’, ‘Testing and evaluation of Chinese proficiency level’, ‘Training and professional development of Chinese teachers’, ‘The past and present of Chinese learning and teaching in Europe’, ‘Chinese teaching in the age of language intelligence’, ‘Chinese teaching practice in European primary and secondary schools’ and ‘Teaching Chinese as a language inheritance’.
The symposium ended on the afternoon of the 13th. Participants praised the conference for such high academic quality, high level of organisation and success.