Recently we received Professors Yoshikawa and Yamashita from Keio University in Japan at the UCL IOE Confucius Institute. Prof Yoshikawa specialises in Chinese film and literature, and Prof Yamashita is a well-known specialist in Chinese mass culture. In addition to conducting research in their own fields, they also teach Mandarin Chinese to university students and have published several textbooks.
The current focus of their work is looking at improving the transition between high school (the sixth-form equivalent in Japan) and universities, by creating a system to assess the skills of students with previous study experience fairly and supporting their learning journey accordingly. In order to do so they have been analysing existing frameworks such as CEFR (The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).
During their field research time in the UK they had an opportunity to visit one of our Confucius Classrooms and MEP schools, Dartford Grammar School for Boys, to observe how Chinese was taught in an English classroom, and found out more about Chinese education in England through Philippa Vallely, Teacher Training Coordinator at UCL IOE CI. Philippa was also able to share her thoughts regarding the transition from secondary to tertiary education in the UK, having run our Schools and Universities Day for the last three years, working closely with both university Chinese departments and teachers in secondary schools.
The Ministry of Education in Japan has recently changed its policy on foreign language learning. As a result teachers are expected to change their ways of teaching Chinese (and other modern foreign languages) from a grammar-based methodology to a communicative approach (場面主義). Therefore, resources already available in the UK such as textbooks with can-do statements and interactive teaching materials can be used as a useful reference by Chinese teachers in Japan who are new to the concept.
Prof Yoshikawa will continue his research in the UK until March 2018 as Visiting Scholar at SOAS.