The Confucius Institute at the University of Arizona (CIUA) Convened an Information-Sharing Symposium on Chinese Teaching in Confucius Classrooms

March 27, 2015

The Confucius Classroom is a very important aspect of Chinese teaching at the Confucius Institute. In order to promote the development and management of Confucius Classrooms, the CIUA convened an information-sharing symposium on Chinese teaching in the Tucson area on March 26th. More than 20 people from the Catalina Foothills School District, Tucson Unified School District, Sahuarita School District, Vail School District, including CIUA’s Co-directors and Chinese director all attended the meeting.
First, CIUA co-director, Professor John Olsen delivered an opening address, welcoming administrators and teachers from Tucson elementary and middle schools. We collectively expressed our gratitude for their support and myriad contributions to Chinese language teaching and Chinese culture promotion.
Following Dr. Olsen’s welcome, all the principals and teachers present engaged in a warm discussion and communication about their experiences and provided feedback on their Chinese programs. Ms. Teresa Hill, Principal of Walden Grove High School, said, ”Since we established our Confucius Classroom last year, more than 50 students have begun to learn Chinese within one year. Now, in our school, there are two levels of Chinese teaching. I am so happy to see that our students can take part in the CIUA’s Spring Gala and can perform Chinese songs on stage. Can you imagine how excited I am? In our district, the parents also pay close attention to our Chinese teaching and learning.”
Clair Wang, a Chinese language teacher from Tucson’s Accelerated Learning Laboratory (ALL), commented that CIUA provides their Chinese teaching with a firm foundation and supplies many activities for students of Chinese language and culture. From kindergarten through high school, more 100 students are learning Chinese at ALL. José Gonzales, a student who graduated from ALL last year, won First Prize in the Southwestern America Chinese Bridge competition and went to China to take part in the World Chinese Bridge for High School Students where he was awarded Third Prize. Since graduation, José has matriculated at Stanford University.  Ms. Wang emphasized that CIUA deserved her heartfelt gratitude.
Andrea Davidson, Principal of Sunrise Drive Elementary School (SDES), expressed excitement at being a CIUA partner. At SDES, Chinese language and culture instruction is carried out in kindergarten and first grade. Under the instruction of CIUA’s expert teachers, SDES has applied the immersion teaching method and has received universally positive feedback from students and parents alike. The immersion approach now a principal feature of SDES’s Chinese teaching, makes the school one of the most attractive in the district. Sheryl Castro, a foreign language instructor in the Catalina Foothills School District, said that CFSD is making great efforts to promote and encourage students’ learning skills in both kindergarten and elementary school contexts. She also regularly reports students’ learning progress to their parents.  Because so many students want to learn Chinese, CFSD has had to create a waiting list.
At the end of the symposium, CIUA’s Professor Wei Zhao provided an overview of the Hanban Headquarters’ programs and CIUA’s special language program. Professor Zhao Chen introduced CIUA’s incoming events. The two directors expressed their hope and desire that CIUA will continue to offer all possible assistance to support Chinese instruction in the greater Tucson area.
By means of this information-sharing symposium, each Confucius Classroom enhanced their mutual understanding through the exchange of their own experiences. At the same time, CIUA also extended its influence among local Tucson schools and in the larger community, which plays a positive role in promoting Chinese teaching.