Search in A Foreign Country Development Record of Confucius Institute at University of Montana

Editor’s note: In early 2010, this newspaper had a long reporter “Work Sidelights of Chinese team in Confucius Institute at University of Montana” to detail the Chinese team’s work in Confucius Institute. Time is fleeting, two years has passed quickly. What new progress has the Confucius Institute made in the past two years? How does it promote Chinese culture “going out”? Let us follow the reporter to witness its achievement.


Increase in Number, Influence and Popularity


With the development of Chinese economy, the demand of Confucius Institute, which is based on the imparting Chinese language and culture, is increasing gradually. Sino-foreign cooperation is in the ascendant, and more than 100 countries has successively opened more than 300 Confucius Institute in a few years. The wave of learning Chinese and the popularity of Confucius Institute are increasing. Confucius Institute at University of Montana in America is a typical example. So far, Southwest University of Political Science and Law has sent a total of two batches of four teachers to undertake the teaching task.


“We have a school in Missoula, a university city, with a population of 60,000. Our classes increased from 3 to 6, and the long term registration face-to-face course enrollment also increased from more than 30 to more than 60, moreover, there were nearly 140 people choosing our Chinese courses. How was it hard and surprising. ” said Qin Jie, former Chinese president of Confucius Institute at University of Montana. “Compared to Spanish, Arabic and other popular language, it is appreciable that Chinese can attract so many people.” said Chen Danli, a teacher at the Global News and Communication College. A teacher from Foreign College, Zhang Li said: “The high popularity is affirmation to our work.” They all once taught at Confucius Institute at University of Montana and witnessed its development.


Confucius Institute opened Chinese credit course in middle school, mainly including two parts: face-to-face course and distance course. In the recent two years, face-to-face course had upgraded from the primary to the intermediate, and its range covered two new private high schools, and its object extended to the primary school students from middle school students. Meanwhile, distance teaching had become the main trend and family school gradually increased, covering 25 public and private schools in Montana. As for the teaching materials, some local high schools were willing to purchase Chinese textbook “the Great Wall” to promote their students’ Chinese learning.


In latest two years, on the one hand, Confucius Institute improved its self-construction, on the other hand, it unceasingly made efforts to the external development and China’ s publicity. Except opening the Summer Camp and lecture, Confucius Institute also participated in the course of Sino US comparative law science in summer, which held by American three universities. It aimed at mixing the foreign and Chinese students to have class together to experience the difference of law culture. With the perfect end coming, professor Acharya from Gonzaga University spoke highly of the students in our school and praised them as “the epitome of the political elite”. Because of the good appraise from students and teachers, the United States decided to continue the activities and invited other universities to participate in this project.


Culture is the endless blood in national vessel and provides inexhaustible life source for the national survival and prosperity. Confucius Institute at University of Montana is a estuary, by which Chinese culture meets other foreign different cultures. It spreads and advocates Chinese language and culture.


“I will speak the oracle and Chinese to tell them how the symbols changed into characters and the source of Chinese characters. ” said Qin Xin, one of the second batch of Chinese teachers. She tried to use the simplest and intuitional method to make the students master Chinese tones, words and expressions. “ Wonderful!The Chinese characters is a kind of art.” This was an American students’ idea after seeing the oracle.


“We should combine the teaching with fun .” Another Chinese teacher used the method of playing a game. He combined the Chinese with a American traditional game “BINGO” to teach Chinese language, and this group discussion made the study more interesting and more competitive.


“We will combine the teaching with cultural activities and cooperate with Chinese College at University of Montana and open round-table conference every week to let students talk about Chinese culture in Chinese. In addition to, we also open a Chinese puppet club and create ‘panda club’ website. We hope that students’ problems can be solved during their learning. ” President Qin said.


Students can learn Chinese and understand Chinese culture in class, and, after class, we can arranged some activities to arouse their enthusiasm, such as organizing students to make Chinese traditional puppet. President Qin thought that making puppet can exercise students’ language ability and arouse their imagination and creativity, at the same time, it can enlarge Chinese cultural influence. This is a typical combination of teaching and practice.


“What we should do is not only to bring in language and culture, but also modern China and modern Chong Qing.” President Qin Jie said. In order to have a better introduction about China and Chong Qing, she took the WWⅡ for an example to introduce the Chong Qing’s history. Students thought Chong Qing was the San Francisco in Yangtze River and they wanted to visit it.


Students like Chong Qing very much, especially Southwest University of Political Science and Law. On its 60th anniversary, the students of Confucius Institute wrote with difficulty “Hello! Happy birthday, Southwest University of Political Science and Law” in brush. Later, they also learned to write “Southwest University of Political Science and Law, xiong qi”.


Confucius Institute is the bridge to connect our university with the international, and also is the medium to implement the developmental strategy of “going out, bringing in”. Last year our art group had a grand performance in America. Today, the Gu zheng at that time is still placed in Confucius Institute to symbolize Montana’ s wish for our second performance in America.


Meet Challenge and Solve Difficulty to Develop Successfully


“Some schools’ internet teaching system was not compatible with Chinese characters, so some students even gave up learning Chinese because of this.” Zhang Li said, “We have to communicate with these schools in person to talk these these problems, as for some far-away schools, we must exchange with them by telephone. ”


Some challenges in teaching can be solved by multiple efforts, but we need more perseverance to face the challenges in our body.


Because of the cold weather and icy roads in Winter in Montana, it was uneasy to walk and Qin Xin once fell down. The doctor diagnosed her falling as severe fracture of coccyx, so she can not take care for herself. The doctor advised her to take a break of 8 weeks to get back to work, but she had stood on the platform after 6 weeks in spite of her unhealthy body. During that hard times, the deepest impression on her is that her students can say “hello” to her in Chinese and help her clean the blackboard. On that moment, she felt all the pay was worth it.


Sunshine is always after the wind and rain. Challenges come with opportunities. “Teachers resource has been always the focus of Confucius Institute development. Our ultimate is to localize the teaching, so we want to absorb local students, who are learning Chinese, and middle school teachers to have a teaching training for them. ” President Qin said, localization of teaching will be the developmental trend of Confucius Institute. Absorbing local teachers can enlarge Confucius Institute’ s influence and make Confucius Institute, which provide the platform for Chinese teaching and Chinese cultural information, more and more bigger and stronger.


Confucius Institute’s continuous development is a promoter to push our Chinese culture going out, is an effective way to improve our national image and soft power, and is a window to make the world understand China, Chong Qing and Southwest University of Political Science and Law. A single spark can start a prairie fire. Confucius Institute at University of Montana will make its own efforts to hand in a satisfactory answer for our university and motherland.