OU Confucius Institute promotes awareness, knowledge of Chinese culture, language

[Source]    oudaily.com [Time]    2018-02-07 15:23:15 

Members of the OU community participate in a dragon dance on the South Oval Sept. 28, 2015. The OU Confucius Institute works to further Chinese language and culture eduction in Norman. Caitlyn Epes/The Daily

As China becomes a more popular study abroad destination for OU students, one university program is working to further Chinese language and culture education in the Norman community.

The Confucius Institute, located just a mile east of OU’s Norman campus, was started in 2006 in partnership with OU’s sister school, Beijing Normal University, and is one of 110 Confucius Institutes located in the United States. The Chinese government initiated the Confucius Institute program in 2004 to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries.

The institute is primarily an outreach program focusing on Chinese language education, and it will also assist local companies that seek to do business with their Chinese counterparts, said Paul Bell Jr., executive chairman of OU’s Confucius Institute.

“Every Confucius Institute abroad has a Chinese partner university, and because of that connection we were able to get an exchange program started with Beijing Normal University, so our students could start to study in Beijing,” Bell said. “And then later, when the Confucius Institute started a scholarship program, we are able to tap into that so that our students can get scholarship to the Confucius Institute to then go study in China basically for free.”

In 2016, China was the sixth most popular destination for OU students studying abroad, with 65 education abroad participants choosing to study in China, according to the College of International Studies’ International Profile. But the Confucius Institute is not only a resource for students who are interested in studying abroad in China — it’s also for students who are interested in Chinese language and culture.

The institute allows students to focus on the learning experience by providing uncredited classes, said Sharon Gou, the board director of the Confucius Institute.

“We offer a variety of classes, like culture classes, dance classes, Tai Ji, Chinese painting and Chinese crafts,” Gou said. “We have all kinds of classes we can offer, and we can also offer classes at a request from the students or faculty altogether. We can do that really every year because we have so many talents from China.”

Civil engineering sophomore Puthynan Bin took Great Wall Spoken Chinese for Beginners at the institute during the spring 2017 semester and said the class was interactive and fun.

“In the class, we would learn how to pronounce and to write a word in Chinese. The teacher was a really funny person, sometimes we would play games to practice what we learned,” Bin said. “We also watched videos about Chinese culture and food — that really helped my understanding of China.”

Students who are taking Chinese at OU can also receive help from the institute. The Confucius Institute offers students services such as action tutoring and one-on-one conversation practice with Chinese exchange students, Gou said.

“Professors usually contact us. We will then try to get them connected with one of our graduate students,” Gou said. “They can be a pen pal-like partners — American students can learn Chinese, and Chinese students can learn English.”

The institute also offers assistance to on-campus activities and organizations. Last year, it worked with the International Advisory Committee and participated in the Eve of Nations competition. This year, the institute will work with the Asian American Student Association to put on celebrations of the Chinese Lunar New Year on Feb. 16.

(oudaily.com Thomas Gao, news reporter)


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