The Confucius Institute (CI) at Alfred University held the first National Conference on K-12 Chinese Immersion Programs on Nov 3 in New York state, with the objective to connect researchers, teachers and administrators of Chinese-language immersion programs across the U.S. and promote the sustainability of the programs.
"We have received over 40 papers for this conference on Chinese-immersion programs. And there will be more than 30 presenters from seven states of the U.S. and five provinces of China," said associate professor Yu Jijun, conference chairman and director of the CI at Alfred University, which is located in Alfred, western New York state.
"It's been six years since the Confucius Institute at Alfred University cooperated with the Geneva city school district on Chinese immersive teaching. The Chinese-immersion program at this school district has exerted a great impact on neighboring areas and has now become an important window to showcase the achievements of Chinese teaching," Yu added.
Research findings on immersive teaching were presented to the audience. Topics include the acquisition of Chinese characters and the cultivation of reading ability, the design of Chinese- immersion programs at an early stage, and the application of teaching techniques in immersion classes.
Trina Smith Newton, superintendent of the Geneva City School District, and Tracy A. Marchionda, director of innovative programming at Geneva City School, discussed the achievements of Chinese-immersion programs in their district.
"During the discussion of the conference, presenters exchanged their own experiences and research findings on Chinese-immersion programs from different aspects such as the basic theory, content, teaching projects, classroom management, the development and sharing of resources, and the development and promotion of programs," Yu explained.
"I really learned a lot at this conference," said Shuping Song, a Chinese teacher at the CI at the University of Buffalo. "Thanks for giving us this opportunity to communicate with and learn from each other."
In closing remarks, Zhang Qiyue, the consul general of China in New York, praised the work of the Alfred CI and congratulated the conference organizers.
"We hope the conference will become a platform where researchers, teachers and administrators of Chinese-immersion programs across the states can communicate with each other, thus promoting the sustainability of the Chinese-immersion programs nationwide," Yu said.
The event also concluded with a concert, "Legend of Silk", which featured a student chorus and the Guzheng Ensemble from Alfred University, a dance company from the China University of Geosciences, as well as tai chi performances, and lion and dragon dances.
"Since 2010, the Confucius Institute at Alfred University has been cooperating with the Division of Performing Arts at Alfred University in offering Chinese music and guzheng (string instrument) courses that are widely welcomed by students. … Chinese concerts have become an important window for introducing Chinese arts and culture to Alfred University and local residents," said Wu Zhongbei, concert director and associate director of the Alfred CI.
"I know you are doing well, but I didn't expect that you can be this good. Thank you very much for all your efforts in promoting Chinese culture," Zhang said.