On the evening of December 4th, 2019, the “Chinese as a Foreign Language in Post-Primary Schools in Ireland: Demand, Growth and Sustainability” report and the “Chinese for Junior Cycle Short Course” teaching resource pack were launched at the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland.
The conference was co-organized by the UCD Confucius Institute and the Irish Association of Chinese Teaching. Distinguished guests included Mr. Ruairí Quinn, Board Member of the Ireland China Institute and former Minister of Education and Skills in Ireland; Mr. Stephen Rhatigan, Chairman of the Irish Association of Chinese Teaching; Mr. Dawei Zheng, the Chief Secretary of the Chinese Embassy in Ireland and Mr. Wei Zhang, Chinese Dean of the UCD Confucius Institute. Representatives from the Department of Education and Skills, principals of secondary schools, Chinese teachers and students also attended the launch. Professor Liming Wang, Director of the UCD Confucius Institute and the Irish Institute for Chinese Studies, hosted the event.
In his welcome speech, Professor Liming Wang mentioned that since the first “Report on Chinese Teaching Needs in Irish Post-Primary Schools” was released, Chinese teaching in Irish secondary schools has been practised and explored for nearly ten years. In 2020, Chinese will be introduced as an optional Leaving Certificate subject, and so the importance of Chinese language teaching in Irish secondary schools is increasing day by day. Professor Wang noted the timely release of this research report in his speech.
Mr. Stephen Rhatigan, speaking on behalf of the Irish Association of Chinese Teaching, noted the gradual introduction of Chinese courses to the Irish secondary school classroom and how these achievements cannot be separated from the unremitting efforts of Irish Chinese teachers. In addition, the UCD Confucius Institute has provided applicable Chinese teaching resource packs for the development of Chinese teaching in Irish secondary schools that provide an important reference for teaching. Mr. Stephen Rhatigan expressed his great honour to witness the launch of both the survey report and the teaching resource pack.
Dr. Emer Nowlan from the School of Education in UCD provided an insight to the main contents of the research report including the needs of Chinese teaching in Irish secondary schools, growth potential, sustainable development issues and the appointment of Chinese teachers. The survey report summarises, and analyses, feedback received from principals and Chinese teachers of secondary schools from every county in Ireland. It comprehensively explores the issues of teachers, syllabi and teaching resources for Chinese teaching in Ireland. Therefore, it provides a large amount of data which will serve as an important reference for the Department of Education and Skills in light of the introduction of Chinese as a Leaving Certificate subject. The report was completed with the support of the Irish Institute for Chinese Studies in UCD and the UCD Confucius Institute.
An informative video introducing the “Chinese for Junior Cycle Short Course” teaching resource pack allowed guests to understand the details of the Student Textbook, Teacher’s Guide and Question Pool. The resource pack focuses on guiding students to learn independently and with their peers in a more ‘student-oriented’ approach, while it also reflects the National Council of Curriculum and Assessment's Short Course assessment strategy and innovative teaching concepts including the promotion of classroom-based assessment. In order to support both Chinese and non-Chinese teachers, the teaching resources are provided in English and Chinese.
During the student demonstration, representatives from Irish secondary schools shared their experience of learning Chinese, and even demonstrated writing one of the most complex characters, “biáng”, which won warm applause from the audience.
Finally, as a great supporter and promoter of the introduction of Chinese to the Irish education system, Mr. Ruairí Quinn addressed the audience. He highlighted the importance of China's influence on the world and how China will become the most influential country in the 21st century. He finished by stating how vital it is for Irish students to learn Chinese and to gain an understanding of China for both their personal development and the future of their country.