Monday, April 30, 2007

Confucius Institute

The University of Alaska Anchorage has had its proposal for a Confucius Institute accepted for the first round. Now they have to submit a revised proposal to get it funded. Germany has the Goethe Institutes and France has the Alliance Francais, and the US sponsors libraries and other programs through their embassies to promote the understanding of their languages and cultures. Japan also has some programs. And now China is getting into the game too, though they seem to be going about it a little differently. The others, as I understand it, are direct arms of their respective governments. The Confucius Institutes are being set up and run through foreign partners - usually Universities. There are already a number in the US and other parts of the world. The Chinese government will sponsor one or two Chinese language teachers from a Chinese University (UAA is partnered here with Changchung Normal University) who will work on various projects. The basic areas we are looking at are University language teaching, community outreach into the public and private sector (such as workshops on Chinese culture and doing business in China), and the Anchorage School District, which has a proposal to create a Chinese immersion school (there already is one for Japanese, Spanish, and Russian.) If the funding comes through, the Chinese government, through the Confucius Institute organization, will be supporting Chinese language and cultural programs in Anchorage. As the US state closest to China, this is could be a good start for us.

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