Chinese Language Initiatives

As the United States and China strive to negotiate their complex geopolitical relationship, developing cultural and linguistic understanding between these two world powers is more important than ever. We must cultivate American students who are familiar with China and Chinese students who are comfortable with the United States, so that as our two countries become more intertwined, and the relationship is based upon trust and effective communication.

To this end, Asia Society’s Chinese Language Initiatives have played a pioneering role in the development of high-quality Chinese language programs in the United States. We have worked with partners and schools around the country and in China to build and improve the field of Chinese language learning, so that now students all throughout the United States have the opportunity to study Mandarin. Today, Chinese language learning is more well-established in American schools. This growth in the number of Chinese language programs has allowed us to begin to focus upon pushing the field to go even further and begin to utilize language – across content areas – to create student partnerships and to teach about contemporary Chinese culture, society, and politics.

We view students as linguists and diplomats — the cultural ambassadors to whom we will hand the future of U.S.-China relations.  So, our goal is to give them the knowledge, skills, and connections to responsibly sustain and deepen this increasingly important relationship.

The Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning Chinese Language Initiatives include the:

Confucius Classrooms Network

The Confucius Classrooms Initiative is an innovative project aimed at developing a dynamic national network of 100 exemplary Chinese language programs. The goal of this network is to build the field of Chinese language teaching at the K–12 level in the United States by providing models of success and strategies for growth. The schools in the network represent 27 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, all with a strong commitment to making their Chinese program a core part of a larger mission toward helping students to be more globally competent. Through the establishment of an online community, targeted professional development for Chinese language teachers in the network, and annual Confucius Classrooms Network conferences, we are creating the infrastructure for the development of effective and sustainable Chinese language programs for American students.

The network asks each of its schools to implement an innovative project aimed at enhancing or expanding its Chinese language program, and to develop an ongoing partnership with a school in China. This project has been established with the support of an International Experts Committee and an Honorary Advisory Committee, and in partnership with Hanban, the Chinese government agency spearheading the establishment of Chinese language programs overseas.

National Chinese Language Conference

The National Chinese Language Conference (NCLC) provides a high-profile platform for sharing new ideas and best practices in the field of Chinese language teaching and learning and U.S.–China educational exchange.

The conference engages policymakers, offers support to schools seeking to establish and sustain high quality Chinese language programs, and explores critical issues in the field, including building ongoing partnerships with Chinese schools, early language acquisition, technology, and Chinese across the curriculum. The conference also helps schools understand the broader contexts for Chinese language education with its spotlight on contemporary Chinese arts and culture.

  • 2013 Conference – Engage the Future 
  • 2012 Conference - State of the Field: Proficiency, Sustainability, and Beyond
  • 2011 Conference - Connect, Innovate, and Lead
  • 2010 Conference –  Learning Chinese, Thinking Globally
  • 2009 Conference - Making Connections, Building Partnerships
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Newsletter, Online Resources, and Publications

In order to support educators and school leaders looking to either create new or improve existing Chinese language programs, Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning offers a variety of digital and print resources, including online learning materials, an e-newsletter, digital teaching resources, and guidebooks.

China and Globalization

Working with a select team of language, content, and technology advisors, we have created a unique set of interactive online Chinese language learning materials focused on integrating social studies content with language-learning experiences for students in elementary, middle, and high school Chinese language programs. Taking a historical perspective on the development of contemporary Chinese society, we  developed three major thematic units on:

  1. Environmental issues
  2. Economy and trade
  3. The exchange of culture and ideas.

These materials are designed to be used by Chinese language teachers, social studies teachers, and others interested in building interdisciplinary content into their Chinese language program.

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Through a monthly e-newsletter , Asia Society’s Chinese Language Initiatives team continues to engage educators, policymakers, and other interested stakeholders in the developing field of Chinese language education.

Sign up for the Chinese Language Initiatives newsletter here.

Online Resources

We provide online resources aimed at helping administrators start effective Chinese language programs, helping teachers learn about best practices in Chinese language curriculum and instruction, and offering thought-leaders in the field perspectives on language acquisition, partnerships and exchanges, and the integration of Chinese language and other academic content in American schools.

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We also continue to distribute publications that offer support for schools interested in establishing new programs or enhancing the scope or quality of existing ones, such as:

  • Chinese Language Learning in the Early Grades: A Handbook of Resources and Best Practices for Mandarin Immersion
  • Meeting the Challenge: Preparing Chinese Language Teacher for American Schools
  • New York Task Force Report on Chinese Language and Culture Initiatives
  • Creating a Chinese Language Program in Your School
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