Talent holds key to Confucius Institutes' prospects

Updated: 2011-09-16 10:26

By Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)

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LONDON - Lack of talent has become the biggest challenge for the development of Confucius Institutes, Wang Yongli, deputy director-general of Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters, told China Daily.

Directors and teachers are vital for the sustainable development of Confucius Institutes, Wang said in an exclusive interview.

"Good teachers can make our Chinese courses more attractive, and make people in different countries and regions accept it more easily," Wang added.

The foreign side of each Confucius Institute should know about China, and the Chinese side should also understand more about foreign countries and regions, Wang said.

Wang's words came after the UK Confucius Institutes National Conference was held in London on Wednesday.

The conference, entitled "Sustainable Development of Confucius Institutes in Britain", attracted nearly 170 people, including directors and teachers from every Confucius Institute in the United Kingdom.

Confucius Institutes have developed quickly around the world since their launch in 2004. "The development exceeded our expectations," Wang said.

By July 2011, 350 Confucius Institutes and 430 Confucius Classrooms had been established in 103 countries and regions, according to Wang.

The model has earned wide recognition, Wang said, adding that more than 260 universities or institutes worldwide are waiting for their applications to set up new Confucius Institutes to be approved.

But, Wang acknowledged, "There are many challenges that we confront, such as teaching quality, teaching materials."

"Teachers should use new techniques and methodologies to make Chinese teaching more productive," he noted.

Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK, said in his speech that the sustainable development of Confucius Institutes is a necessary task to ensure there are solid foundations that will last a long time.

"We should never stop searching for better approaches to promote the development of Confucius Institutes," Liu added.

"More needs to be done to raise teaching standards, and promote sharing of resources and the spread of best practices," Liu said. "We need to put more efforts in training local teachers," he added.

There are 17 Confucius Institutes and 57 Confucius Classrooms in the UK, in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms have educated and trained a large number of students in the UK.

Nigel Evans MP, first deputy chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means of the House of Commons, said: "The Confucius centers make a real difference. Not only through developing a better understanding of China and its history, but also, it is about ensuring the world understands each other."


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