Chinese Language Culture Education Incorporated into Italian National Education System
In September 2016, the Italian Ministry of Education officially issued “Il sillabo della lingua cinese per le scuole secondarie di secondo grado”（The National Syllabus of Chinese Language Culture Education Catering to Senior Middle School in Italy）. The introduction of the syllabus, which not only serves as guidance and standardizes the requirements for Chinese language culture education in Italy, also marks the first time such program is incorporated into the Italian national education system. The ministry also organized a special committee to be in charge of compiling the Chinese language culture syllabus. As members of the special committee, the headmaster of the Convitto Nazionale “Vittorio Emanuele II” di Roma, Italian and Chinese director of the Confucius Institute at University of Rome La Sapienza made significant contributions to the completion of the syllabus.
The Convitto Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele II, Roma, enjoys a very long history which can be traced back to 1595. It covers all levels of national school education, including elementary, junior and senior high schools. In order to promote international cooperation, since 2009, the Convitto School has been cooperating with the Confucius Institute at University of Rome La Sapienza to offer international high school science program with Chinese as a compulsory course. The program not only includes courses like Chinese language and culture but also history and geography courses using Chinese as the instructed language. Up to now, the China-Italy joint experimental education and training program has been operated for 7 years, becoming a pioneer and a successful example in promoting Chinese language and culture education in the Italian education system.
Set apart from similar schools which also offer Chinese language and culture courses, students enrolled at Convitto Nazionale “Vittorio Emanuele II” di Roma acquire not merely science-related knowledge, but also basic commands of Chinese, which equips them with the so-called “double pass permit” along the way for further educational pursuit. Some students, after finishing high school, choose to apply to advance their education at well-known universities in China, all of which undoubtedly form into stronger partnership and friendship between China and Italy in various fields.
As quoted by Paolo M. Reale, the schoolmaster of Convitto Nazionale “Vittorio Emanuele II” di Roma, “Jointly offering Confucius Classroom courses together with Confucius Institute at University of Rome La Sapienza was initially an attempt to satisfy students’ cultural curiosity. Yet after years of development and joint efforts, both by the students and the faculty itself, it has evolved into a consolidated and systematic program to the extent that it has become a brand item which reflects our education features. This program has greatly promoted the school’s internationalization process. Among various international exchanges conducted, the ever stable exchanges with China bear the most fruit.” Schoolmaster Reale assumed, the cooperative form between the school and the Confucius Institute at University of Rome La Sapienza has achieved great success, which has also provided valuable experiences for other schools in Chinese culture-teaching needs. In addition, the Ministry of Education of Italy has formally granted 13 Chinese teachers lifelong teaching qualifications as of February last year, meaning that these teachers have been given the green light for teaching Chinese language and culture courses at any school in Italy. Schoolmaster Reale said, in the process of promoting Chinese culture teaching, seriousness, conscience and striving to progress is the motto of the school. Despite a variety of difficulties and challenges, he has always believed that this project has extremely important teaching values at its core.
Today, the school’s teaching objectives are no longer limited to Chinese language teaching, but hopefully more concentrated on introducing the profound Chinese culture to students. At present, the school has set up an annual Chinese language learning summer camp, visiting and exchanging programs for Chinese students and other kinds of exchanging and cooperative projects, creating conditions for students to understand Chinese culture and furthermore, to integrate into it. A graduate from the Vittorio Emanuele school who had studied in China, told the journalist, “At first, my choice of learning Chinese was but curiosity about the culture of this distant country, as well as the hope for more career opportunities in the future. As my understanding about China came to grow, I realized that Chinese or Chinese culture not only could affect my future development, but also has changed my current way of thinking and my outlook on life.
Zhang Hong, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute at University of Rome La Sapienza, told the journalistin the interview that the Chinese project at the Vittorio Emanuele II School has experienced rapid growth. From 2009 to 2010 during the school year, there were only 28 first graders at the Vittorio Emanuele II School learning Chinese language. However, as of now, nearly 250 students divided into ten classes are learning Chinese. Coupled with the primary school and junior high school students, the total number of students learning Chinese language reaches more than 850. The Convitto Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele II, di Roma has become an important platform for Confucius Classrooms to promote the Chinese language and culture from primary school to senior high school. Meanwhile, it makes up the highest teaching level of Chinese language and culture teaching in the whole school and even the entire country. The Chinese language and culture education project at this school is not only strongly supported by both the Chinese and Italian governments, also successfully penetrated the Italian national examination system as well. There are three examinations related to Chinese language in the High School Graduate Test, namely written Chinese tests, oral Chinese examinations and Chinese history.
(Story by: Chen Xiaochen,Guangming Daily, Apr. 5th. 2017, Page 15. Photos by: Hanban)