Detroit: Chinese program at Michican State U honored

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Jan 3 14:33:43 UTC 2008

  Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Chinese program at MSU honored Institute's efforts spur interest in Mandarin
classes in local schools. Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

Whether it is the automobile industry or foreign policy, China will be a
central focus of international affairs -- so much so that local officials in
Metro Detroit are pushing for Mandarin classes in schools. The Confucius
Institute at Michigan State University, which provides language skills and
knowledge of China online and in the classroom, has been recognized by
China's government as providing an exemplary program -- one it says should
be replicated by other centers around the country. The Confucius Institute
received the 2007 Confucius Institute of the Year award at the Great Hall of
the People in Beijing on Dec. 11, officials at Michigan State announced. The
award was presented by Chinese Language Council International, a branch of
the Chinese government, to spotlight the most successful educational
programs concerning China around the globe.

"The main thing in the Metro Detroit area is that we are basically using
modern technology and various kinds of online resources for school use,"
said Yong Zhao, a professor at Michigan State and the executive director of
the institute. "Schools do not have to put in a big commitment or large
amounts of resources. They don't have to hire teachers or commit hundreds of
thousands of dollars." The Confucius Institute at Michigan State has 300
students from five states enrolled in its online course. Most are from high
schools in Michigan, and the program is operated in cooperation with
Michigan Virtual High School.

In addition, the institute is supporting instruction in eight school
districts, including the Oakland Intermediate School District, by providing
Chinese language software and teachers for classrooms. About 2,000 students
are involved. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson encouraged the
institute, saying that particularly with the problematic economy in
Michigan, new trends in education are important to embrace.

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