Teacher training

Teacher Training and Hanban Teachers in the UK

1. Skills, knowledge and competence in Chinese teacher education by Yang Zhao 赵杨

Chinese teacher education has attached great importance to skills, which is reflected in the standards issued by Hanban, in the training for Hanban teachers and volunteers before going to work abroad, and especially in the curriculum for Masters of Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages. Training in skills provides substantial knowledge about teaching and is thus helpful to trainees and potential Chinese teachers. However, its effectiveness is reduced dramatically due to the lack of consideration of Chinese learners in different countries with different cultures and language backgrounds. Such knowledge-based training leaves a big gap between what a teacher knows and what he or she can do in language classrooms.

This article first gives a critical survey of theories of foreign language teacher education with respect to knowledge and competence that a foreign language teacher needs, including knowledge-based education, sociocultural perspectives and postmethod approach. After analysis of these theories and based on a survey of current teachers of Chinese as a second or foreign language, the author proposes a Chinese teacher education knowledge framework, which includes pedagogic knowledge, teaching practice, and linguistic and cultural knowledge. Beyond such knowledge, the author puts forward so-called ‘interpersonal competence’, which refers to the ability of teachers to enlighten and motivate students. According to the author, the possession of interpersonal competence is the dividing line between a qualified teacher and an outstanding teacher.

Skills, knowledge, competence, Chinese, teacher education

About the author

Dr Zhao Yang is Professor and Dean of School of Chinese as a Second Language, Peking University. He got his PhD degree from the University of Cambridge and is interested in several linguistic areas including second language acquisition, generative grammar and sociolinguistics. He has published one monograph and numerous articles in Chinese and English in academic journals and has given presentations on Chinese language and culture in many universities.


2. Isn’t it delightful to work afar? – A pilot study of Confucius Institute student-teachers in the UK by Dr Liang Wang 王亮 & Beibei Yeli (叶李贝贝)

Since the promotion of Chinese language and culture to the world as a mission undertaken by the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), Confucius Institutes (CI’s) have been established and expanding globally and Chinese language teachers and student-teachers as volunteers have been sent across the world. As CI’s have become one of China’s images abroad, a growing number of overseas scholars are undertaking research in an effort to understand the CI phenomenon from multiple standpoints – economically, politically and socio-culturally. Little research has been done to understand from an educational and human perspective as to what and how CI volunteers, often perceived as ‘cultural ambassadors’ or ‘civil diplomats’, are actually working to reach and interact with local individuals and communities.

This paper reports an investigation on CI student-teachers’ work experience from two UK universities and their conceived support in order to fulfill their duties. Through retrospective self-reports and interviews, it examines what kind of pre-service training they were offered for overseas work. Further, the research elicits the kind of intercultural encounters they experienced and how they responded to, and coped with, such experiences. Through analyzing the critical incidents in their contact with different people both at work and at leisure, this paper proposes a framework that provides support for CI student-teachers’ social and professional development overseas.

Confucius Institute, student-teacher, intercultural incident, teacher training, professional development.

About the authors

Dr Liang Wang (王亮) is currently Language Support Officer at The Queen’s University Belfast and holds a Masters of Research and PhD degrees from The Open University, where he also worked as an Associate Lecturer in Chinese and as an editorial assistant. With fundamental research interest in internet-mediated intercultural language education, he has been promoting the intercultural perspective and practice in both academic and professional work on a range of issues such as intercultural supervision, intercultural awareness training and benchmarking Chinese language with an intercultural dimension.

Beibei Yeli (叶李贝贝) is currently deputy manager of Nottingham Confucius Institute (NCI), worked as a volunteer mandarin teacher at NCI from 2011-2012. Holding a Masters degree in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages from Fudan University (China), she has expanded her areas of interest from pedagogical development to professional training and administrative support.


3. Hanban Teachers’ First Years of Professional Identity Construction in UK Schools: Questions of the Use of L1 and TL in Mandarin classroom, by Yi Xiang (向怡)

Mandarin language learning is being introduced and growing in UK schools with the policy objectives to develop foreign language skills of pupils in alignment with economic trends. Chinese national language assistants (Hanban teachers) are one significant type of support staff that can be deployed in the development of Mandarin teaching and learning (Filmer-Sankey & Marshall, 2010). As this group of teachers enter a new social-cultural context, their teaching experiences have sometimes been reported as difficult and challenging (Cilt, 2007; Starr, 2009; Yang, 2010). Nevertheless, very little work has been carried out to understand what real problems and challenges these teachers are facing in their teaching (Wang, 2011b).

This paper reports on some findings from a longitudinal study which analyses the teaching experience of seven Hanban teachers in the UK through the theoretical lens of professional identity construction, looking at the process of how their professional identities are shifted in a new educational context during their first years. This will specifically focus on how their beliefs and practices evolve, in terms of their use of L1 and TL in Mandarin classrooms.

Prior to their introduction to the UK school landscape, they constructed professional identities which are shaped by their previous teaching experience and the beliefs and pedagogies promoted by various training programmes. However, these professional identities are challenged by the current teaching practice in Mandarin classrooms, the academic and linguistic needs of students, and also influenced by personal identities. Thus, they are subject to a dynamic period of adaptation and change.

Professional identity, Hanban teachers, use of L1 and TL

Yi Xiang (向怡) is a PhD candidate in Education at the UCL Institute of Education, University College London.

Through her university years, Yi Xiang developed a strong interest in teaching Chinese as a second language both in theory and in practice. In 2012, upon completion of the MA programme in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics she commenced her study as a MPhil / PhD student in Education at IOE.

Her PhD project focuses on the exploration of the teaching experience of Chinese national Mandarin teachers (i.e. Hanban teachers) in the UK from the theoretical lens of professional identity construction. More specifically, she is looking at the process of how their professional identities are developed in a new educational context during their first years.