The “Vocational Education Going Global” pilot project sponsored by the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Training Programme on Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages (TCSOL) was held at the Open University of China (OUC) From the 26th to 30th June 2017.

24 teachers from nine vocational institutions and the China Nonferrous Metal Industry Talent Centre attended the training. The training programme is a pilot project commissioned by the MOE for the OUC focused on teaching Chinese to speakers of other languages, which aims to develop a teaching team with “dual teaching abilities” for the vocational education programme exported to Zambia, as well as to prepare the personnel resources needed for the OUC’s study centre to be built overseas.

The opening ceremony was attended by OUC personnel, including vice president Qi Yanwei, deputy director of International Cooperation and Exchange Department Chen Haishan, executive deputy director of Chinese Language Centre Yang Yongbo, and Zhao Lixia, manager of the Training Department of China Nonferrous Metal Industry Talent Centre. Deputy director of the OUC Chinese Language Centre Wang Shuo, hosted the ceremony.

Qi Yanwei gave a brief introduction to the OUC’s history, operational concepts, and achievements, and pronounced his hopes for the training effects. Zhao Lixiao gave a presentation on the launch process, phased outcomes, and working goals for the next stage of the “Vocational Education Going Global” pilot project on behalf of the China Nonferrous Metal Industry Talent Centre.

Wang Shuo held the first lecture session. She elaborated on the background and significance of the integration of the “Vocational Education Going Global” project with international Chinese language education. The “Vocational Education Going Global” often faces language barriers, so integrating Chinese teaching into vocational education is of essential significance to the long-term development of Chinese funded enterprises abroad, as well as encouraging local people to learn Chinese and accept vocational education. With the acceleration of “Belt and Road” construction, the “Going Global” strategy has great prospects.

Most of the trainees are teachers who will be dispatched to Zambia to carry out technology and skill training and vocational education for local employees of Chinese funded enterprises in Zambia. In addition to vocational education training, these teachers undertake an important mission: to launch Chinese classes for local employees and enable them to listen, speak and read in Chinese, making Chinese a tool to enhance workers’ professional skills. The teachers teach engineering majors, including mechatronics, civil engineering, mineral processing and metallurgy at domestic vocational education institutions; none of them have any teaching experience in teaching Chinese to speakers of other languages. Considering the trainees’ backgrounds and working objectives, the OUC Chinese Language Centre analysed the needs of the project and designed a series of customised courses for the training based on its previous TCSOL training programmes. The training covers a wide range of aspects, including content and methods of international Chinese language instruction, the adoption of Chinese textbooks, teaching organisation and activity design, cross-cultural communication, and the exchange of Chinese online teaching tools.

In order to help the trainees apply what they have learnt, the training emphasises interaction and practical ability. For example, it includes demonstration classes on observation and analysis, teaching plan design, and simulated teaching and comments. The team of lecturers includes renowned experts in Chinese language teaching from Beijing Language and Culture University, Minzu University of China, and Beijing Foreign Studies University, experienced frontline Chinese instructors with TSCOL skills, and cross-boundary experts from the Department of African Business and the Export-Import Bank of China who have knowledge of related educational aid policies and practices, and the status of vocational education in Africa. The experts work together with the teaching team of the OUC Chinese Language Centre, creating a lively and pleasant atmosphere for each class.

Professor Jiang Liping of Beijing Language and Culture University giving a class

Lively class atmosphere

The trainees are enthusiastic and passionate about the learning. Many of them said that they had not studied Chinese language and culture for a long time, and that this training had enabled them to learn about Chinese language and culture from a new, professional perspective — they realised that teaching Chinese is not as easy as they had assumed. Although the training lasted just five days, it opened up a brand new world for the trainees and every participant hoped that they would have an opportunity for further study.

Ms. Wang Nan, a teacher from the Training Department of the China Nonferrous Industry Talent Centre, who has been working in Zambia for seven months, said, “I’d like to thank the OUC for giving us this opportunity, which brings us together for a career in the “Vocational Education Going Global” project. As soon as the new batch of teachers arrive at their posts in Zambia, we will cooperate with the OUC to carry out Chinese teaching at local Chinese-funded enterprises.”

Trainees having a discussion

Closing ceremony

The “Vocational Education Going Global” pilot project was officially approved in December 2015. The project is based around enterprises in Zambia funded by China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group, implementing technology and skill training, and degree vocational education for the local employees with the support of teacher and course resources from the OUC and eight Chinese higher vocational education institutions, all under the unified coordination of China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association. The project has made some progress. The advancement of the pilot project is expected to produce urgently needed technical workers for local Chinese-funded enterprises, in order to solve the human resources bottleneck facing Chinese-funded enterprises overseas.

Qi Yanwei stated that, “The Belt and Road strategy begins from vocational education based on Chinese language teaching. This training represents an attempt by the “Vocational Education Going Global” pilot project to build a teaching team with ‘dual teaching abilities’, which will deepen the integration of Chinese language promotion and vocational education.”

By Xu Xiaoxiao, OUC

Photo by Chen Meng