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Global network helps develop Confucius Classrooms

06 July 2011

Confucius Classroom - webCardiff Confucius Institute Director Professor Siyi Fu meets children at one of the San Diego Confucius Classrooms

Cardiff Confucius Institute is building Chinese education across Wales – with a little help from the other side of the Atlantic.

The Institute, based at the University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning is currently developing three Confucius Classrooms in partnership with schools across Wales to act as ‘hubs’ for education development in their respective regions.

Members of Institute recently travelled to Confucius Institute at San Diego State University to observe Confucius Classrooms in operation in the US. The team also learned more about how American school children could potentially partner with Welsh children as part of the Wales China Schools Project to promote Mandarin language learning.

The Confucius Classsrooms in San Diego face a similar education issues to those in Wales. The population is very similar and given the proximity of the Mexican border the Spanish language is widely spoken alongside English, just as Welsh is widely spoken alongside English across Wales. This is reflected in school classes and the language media through which children are learning. The inclusion of Chinese in the syllabus provides a third language for pupils as young as 6 years old to contend with. The Confucius Classrooms programme encourages Mandarin learning through a number of different approaches from kindergarten through to high school.

The Cardiff party observed children in ‘immersion projects’, with up to 70 per cent of all their classes taught through the medium of Chinese. As a result children are graduating from elementary school to middle school with a high level of competency in Chinese conversation.

Both CIs at SDSU and at Cardiff partner with Xiamen University, so the three universities are now exploring opportunities for wider collaboration with their Confucius Classroom programmes.

Cardiff Confucius Institute General Manager Scott Andrews said: "China is growing in its significance as both a global economic power and as a partner for collaborative activities with western universities. We are privileged at Cardiff to be partnering with Xiamen University to develop our Confucius Institute activities and we value the wider partnerships that this institute has enabled us to develop, both across Wales, Europe and the wider world."

The three Confucius Classrooms under development with the Cardiff Confucius Institute are Aberconwy School in North Wales, Argoed High School in Mold and Cathays High School in Cardiff.

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