More than 300 pupils wowed a delegation of high-ranking diplomats in Dungannon today as they put newly learned Mandarin Chinese skills to the test.
The legions of learners were bidding to gain accreditations through South West College’s Confucius Classroom Hub which promotes Chinese language and culture in 18 primary and secondary schools in Counties Fermanagh and Tyrone.
The South West College Hub, one of eight established in Northern Ireland last year by Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster, welcomed the Director of the Division of Finance & Testing, Duan Li, along with the Confucius Institute Directors from across UK to see the young learners sitting the Youth Chinese Test (YCT) and the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) language exams.
Malachy McAleer, Director of South West College, said:
“The pupils here today to sit the Youth Chinese Test and the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi language proficiency exams, both of which are supervised by state officials and internationally respected, have demonstrated a major achievement in reaching the assessment stage in the first year of their studies. This shows how learners across the region have embraced the opportunity to broaden their understanding of the culture and language of China.”
“Our Confucius Classroom Hub has had a tremendous impact in a short time. We will soon have engaged with over 1000 learners in these initial stages and believe our approach has been effective in building enthusiasm among learners of all ages. We are also pleased that senior representatives are looking at how we have been able to do that.”
Malachy added: “The College has an on-going desire to work with Invest NI and the Department for Employment and Learning to increase the economic activity in the south west region and this project is one a part of that."
More than 35 Confucius Institutes Directors from UK & China took part in a briefing with South West College to learn how the College has rolled out its Confucius Classroom Hub and how its success can be replicated elsewhere. Feedback received noted the Hub as “a world class example of Mandarin Chinese delivery”.
The pupils at South West College sat the Youth Chinese Test (YCT), an international standardised test which assesses students' abilities to use Chinese in daily and academic lives, and the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK). HSK is an internationally recognised examination that assesses language proficiency of non-native speakers and is often used by employers to measure Chinese language skills.
In its first year, the South West College Confucius Hub has hosted cultural awareness programmes, events and conferences for local communities and partners and given every learner in Fermanagh and Tyrone access to three Chinese teachers funded by the Confucius Institute at the University of Ulster.