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Confucius Institute Starts Pilot Mandarin Program
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Confucius Institute at China Institute started its pilot Mandarin teaching program on Monday at Shanghai's East China Normal University with 16 teachers from elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher learning in the US.


Most of the 16 students are qualified teachers who already have bachelor's degrees. They also have a good grasp of Mandarin and some are of Chinese origin.


Course offerings during the program, which runs from July 10 to August 18, include Chinese Phonology for Language Teachers, Chinese Characters: Their Structure and Evolution, Chinese Grammar and Teaching, and Chinese Literature.


At the end of the program, trainees should obtain 12 postgraduate academic credits, which would enable them to teach Chinese in New York State public schools.


The program is primarily tailored to the needs of New York public school teachers.


It is organized by Confucius Institute at China Institute, a project between China Institute in America, an 80-year-old not-for-profit educational and cultural institution located in New York City, and China's National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOCFL, or "Hanban"). The program is supported in part through the generous funding of the Hanban.


According to the statistics from the Ministry of Education, there are over 30 million people learning Chinese overseas, and more than 2,500 colleges in 100 countries now provide Chinese language courses.


To satisfy the needs of foreigners who want to learn Chinese, China has, since 2002, set up a number of non-profit Chinese-language learning institutions overseas. Names were standardized in 2004 and they are now known as "Confucius Institutes". These institutes aim to establish a bridge between China and other countries by promoting Chinese language and culture.


Zhou Ji, minister of education, said that 80 Confucius Institutes and training programs have been launched in 36 countries, and another 99 organizations in 38 countries have submitted their applications to set up.


Zhou pointed out that the Confucius Institute name has become a brand widely recognized throughout the world. It is a place to learn Chinese, and a source of information on China. It also serves as a platform for communication and cooperation in education, culture, economy and trade with China.


( by Xu Lin, July 12, 2006)

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