Hanban shops around for a wider choice

Updated: 2013-09-10 08:37

By Sun Shangwu, Zhao Huanxin and Tang Yue (China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Charting a new course

Although China has a long and rich history, to indulge too much in that history doesn't do you any favours when it comes to cross-cultural communications.

"You have to tell the story with a modern flavour, otherwise the audience will lose interest," Xu said.

"Our teachers are good at telling the ancient story but that is not enough. Except for scholars and those who have a special interest in history, people can't swallow too much history and need something more practical and fun."

If You Are The One, one of the most popular Chinese TV dating shows, has been introduced to some Confucius classes for adult students.

In addition, several specialised institutes have been established and the online study system has been expanding during the past few years.

In 2007, the first two specialised institutes opened in the UK - one for business at the London School of Economics and Political Science and another for traditional Chinese medicine at London South Bank University.

Now, you can also go to Bingham University in New York to learn about Chinese opera or the rapidly developing Chinese tourism sector at Griffith University in Australia, among other choices.

In 2008, Hanban launched Confucius Institute Online to provide a multimedia platform for Mandarin learners. It now has 46 language versions.

However, face-to-face teaching is always the first choice when resources are available. For Hanban, it is increasingly a challenge to send enough bilingual teachers abroad to meet the rising demand. While the Alliance Francaise and the Goethe Institute can hire many local teachers, that is hardly the case for Confucius Institutes because Chinese-speaking teachers are far less common.

"You can find more than 100 colleges in China that have German and French majors, but Chinese is relatively new in other countries despite the rapid development in the past few years. We still have a long way to go," Xu said.

"I have a dream. That one day every speaker at the National Chinese Language Conference can give a speech in Chinese," Xu said in English at the closing ceremony of the 6th National Chinese Language Conference in Boston in July.

"It will probably be realized years after my retirement. But I believe it will come true one day."