Prospering online Chinese teaching brings Chinese culture closer to overseas students

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Teachers and students from the School of International Education, Shandong University celebrate the 13th Chinese Language Day of the UN together with young students and Chinese language teachers from Fiji, April 20, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the School of International Education, Shandong University)
Teachers and students from the School of International Education, Shandong University celebrate the 13th Chinese Language Day of the UN together with young students and Chinese language teachers from Fiji, April 20, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the School of International Education, Shandong University)

By Bo Shengyi

Online Chinese teaching embraced rapid development over the recent couple of years.
As of the end of 2021, it had been carried out in a total of over 180 countries and regions, and 76 countries had included learning Chinese as part of their national education systems.

According to incomplete statistics, there are currently more than 25 million people outside China learning Chinese, which brings the total number approaching 200 million.

The rapid development of online Chinese teaching is expected to meet the rising demand for Chinese learning around the world, and bring the Chinese language and culture to more people.

Chinese Plus, an online Chinese teaching platform launched in March 2020 offers a total of more than 16,000 online lessons. It has 6.8 million registered users and has received 15.03 million visits, covering 201 countries and regions around the world.

iFLYTEK, a Chinese business specializing in intelligent speech and artificial intelligence, has created the Global Chinese Learning Platform (GCLP) for learners and teachers of the Chinese language.. It has gained 6.21 million users in 182 countries. In the past year, nearly 380,000 overseas users conducted self-directed learning on the platform.

“Compared with offline learning, online learning saves much time for both students and tutors,” said Song Qi, a lecturer from the School of Culture and Communication, Shandong University.

After each lesson, Song would have her students do a dictation to see how they have mastered the class. “When we were in the classroom, I usually let the students write the characters on paper, which took long. Now I would have them type the characters, which not only saves time, but also increases their confidence and relieves their burden,” Song told People’s Daily.

Apart from learning the Chinese language, overseas learners also want to know more about Chinese culture. Therefore, many institutions and schools have opened relevant online courses, so as to present the beauty of the Chinese language and culture to overseas students and show them a comprehensive, multi-dimensional, and real China.

“In addition to language courses, we also have courses on the Chinese culture. We create an immersive learning environment employing virtual reality technology and online mini games,” said Gai Cuijie, a teacher with the GCLP.

“On the Spring Equinox For instance, we had the students do the egg balancing. Through such cultural activities, we are bringing closer the tutors and the students,” Gai said.

To help overseas students gain a deeper understanding of China, the School of International Education, Shandong University launched cultural courses and a specialized website. The courses consist of various modules that cater to different groups of overseas learners. For instance, a language and culture module is offered for overseas adolescents, which covers multiple topics ranging from modern Chinese family, community, technology, and lifestyle.

There’s also a module for preparatory students coming to China to study medical science, helping them improve their Chinese reading and writing capabilities. Besides, the School of International Education has also launched a module for professional learners, in which scholars and professional teams are invited to guide the learners to comprehend
China from different perspectives.

Online teaching and cultural programs not only satisfy the demand of overseas students for language learning, but also consolidate the friendship among different nations.

“We have graduates that became teachers of our school after finishing studies at Shandong University. This is a witness to the friendly cooperation between our two institutions and even the two countries,” said the principal of a middle school in Mongolia.

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