On 4 March, representative principals and teachers from nearly 20 Irish post-primary schools gathered in UCD for a project meeting promoting Mandarin Chinese teaching, held by the UCD Confucius Institute.
To develop Chinese language as a curricular subject in Irish post-primary schools, UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland carried out research including a nation-wide survey of all Irish schools (750 in total) and the teaching of Chinese language and culture as a pilot programme to five schools for three years. The project has attracted the attention of the Irish media and public and the Irish government has attached great importance to it.
Further to the successful launch of the research report, UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland, under the guidance and support of the CI Headquarters and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) in Ireland, is in the process of developing Chinese language and culture as a fully recognised Transition Year curriculum unit for Irish post-primary schools. 45 hours of teaching materials for the unit have been developed and produced, including on-line materials, workshops, games for both indoor and outdoor activities, face-to-face materials and DVDs.
The teaching materials were piloted by 20 selected schools in the academic year 2010-11 and are being revised according to feedback received from Irish secondary school teachers and pupils. Based on the pilot year, the descriptor will be reviewed and finalised for formal approval by the NCCA. In the academic year 2011-12, Chinese language and culture will be officially taught in Irish post-primary schools nationally, firstly as a transition year unit but with the aim of expanding it to become a full curricular subject.
The main aim of this meeting was to get feedback from the principals and teachers of the pilot project schools on matters such as course content, teaching practice, class organization etc., to revise the current material. Based on this feedback, the descriptor will be reviewed and finalised and sent for formal approval by the NCCA.
|After the meeting, the principals and teachers continue in their lively discussions on the day’s topics|
During the meeting, the assembled principals and teachers eagerly voiced their positive opinions and feedback, which is a huge boost to pushing forward Mandarin Chinese teaching in Irish post-primary schools.
After a short recess, a teacher from the Confucius Institute gave a detailed presentation on the content and usage of the online materials which back-up the standard post-primary schools’ Mandarin Chinese course books, ‘Happy Chinese’. These online materials are vivid, lively and extremely interesting, and are perfect for the needs of post-primary students. Additionally, these comprehensive online materials are a great help for Irish teachers to successfully teach Chinese classes themselves in the future. After the presentation these Irish teachers, who have never studied Chinese language or culture before, all expressed confidence in being able to use these materials to independently teach Chinese language and culture classes after some short training and supervision.
This is a remarkable breakthrough in the promotion of Mandarin Chinese teaching in Ireland by the UCD Confucius Institute, and smoothes the way for the rolling out of a national TY year Chinese language and culture teaching curriculum for 2011-2012.