NEW YORK, April 19 (Xinhua) -- China and the United States kicked off a new
Chinese language and culture initiative here on Wednesday by signing an
agreement of cooperation in promoting Chinese language and culture programs in
the United States.
Witnessed by Chinese Education Minister Zhou Ji and his delegation, Xu Lin,
director-general of China's National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign
Language (Hanban) and Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board of the
United States, signed the agreement at a ceremony.
The initiative will address the critical shortage of Chinese-language
teachers in the United States, support schools wishing to begin new Chinese
language programs, promote professional development for teachers and the
production of high quality instructional materials, officials close to the
signing ceremony said.
They added that the initiative will also provide students with a pipeline
to the College Board's new AP Chinese Language and Culture Exam.
Praising the initiative as "good for U.S. students, good for the United States,
and good for the world in the 21st century," Caperton said the College Board
was pleased and enthusiastic about the new initiative between the two
He expressed appreciation for Hanban's support in helping American students
learn Chinese, discover the vibrant Chinese culture, and participate more fully
in the cultural exchange between the two countries.
Noting that when more than 200 million children in China are studying
English, only 24,000 in the United States are studying Chinese, Caperton pledged
efforts to help thousands of U.S. schools that want to offer their students a
21st century choice.
On his part, Zhou urged education institutions from all over the world to
join the efforts for international promotion of the Chinese language. He praised
the College Board and universities that are hosting Confucius Institutes for
taking a significant first step, and expressed the hope that more institutions
In a 2004 survey, nearly 2,400 American high schools expressed an interest in offering
the Advanced Placement Chinese course in 2006-2007, but many of these schools
are handicapped by a shortage of qualified Chinese teachers. To help
ease the shortage, the new initiative will temporarily place 150 guest teachers
from China in American classrooms over the next three years.
To ensure program continuity when the guest teachers return to China, the
initiative also enables the College Board to support nearly 300 American
teacher-candidates in their efforts to attain state certification.
The plan's partners had already moved forward with a number of the projects
outlined in the agreement even before its official signing.
In an effort to support the ongoing professional development of teachers already
in the classroom, 60 American teachers of Chinese will benefit from
intensive, three-week-long summer institutes to be held at Beijing Normal
University and Shanghai International Studies University this summer.
These programs will expand to include more teachers and involve others in
the coming years. Nearly 600 American teachers of Chinese will have access to
these programs over the next five years.
In addition, some 400 American educators will have the opportunity to travel
to China during the summer months to become familiar with China's people, language,
culture, and educational systems. They are expected to better support the
growth of Chinese programs in their own districts.
The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission
is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the
association is composed of more than 5,000 schools, colleges, universities, and
other educational organizations. Enditem