Chinese language programme to launch officially in UAE schools in September

A Chinese language programme will officially launch in UAE schools starting this September, a report by the UAE Ministry of Education has revealed.

Titled, 'Chinese Language Programme: Current Status and Future Plan,' the ministry report that was reviewed by the Emirates News Agency, WAM, noted the "historic peak" in relations between the UAE and China, adding that there is a growing interest among "Emirati people to understand the Chinese language and culture."

Hussain Al Hammadi, the UAE Minister of Education, and the Confucius Institute's Deputy Chief Executive, Ma Jianfei, signed an MoU on Monday to introduce the Chinese language in UAE education curricula, during the state visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to China.

According to the ministry report, two reports - the ‘National Chinese Language Curriculum Framework,' which focuses on the student learning outcomes, and the ‘National Chinese Curriculum Syllabus,' which focuses on the details and scope of the content - were prepared to support the implementation of the Chinese language curriculum for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The ministry explained that the 'National Chinese Language Curriculum Framework' adopts a level-based approach to Chinese language learning.

It describes learning outcomes for students in grades 7-12 across a six-level scale, with four skills addressed separately within each level. Each level of the ministry’s Chinese Language Levels is aligned to the Chinese Language Proficiency Test, known as Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, CEFR.

The Ministry of Education is planning to recruit 150 Chinese language teachers for the academic year 2019-2020, the report said.

Teaching resources are also being developed by the ministry. According to the report, 18-part books 'Across the Silk Route' for the 2019-2020 academic year, cover the six levels - each level has three books.

The books series adopt a "holistic approach" to learning, and emphasise the development of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, the report explained.

The primary goal of the series is to help students in UAE schools to "establish a solid foundation of vocabulary" and "knowledge of Chinese and communicative skills through the natural and gradual integration of language, content and cultural elements," the report added.

Other books are also being developed in cooperation with China’s Nishan Press, to help UAE students better understand Chinese culture and society via nine aspects - art and design, mathematics, geography, science, music and drama, history, literature, sports and society.

Following its launch in September 2019, the programme’s implementation stage will be carried out over the next three years, the report said, noting ongoing monitoring and evaluation processes will take place to ensure its effectiveness.

Plans to establish a "Chinese Centre" at the Ministry are in progress, the report said, adding that there is a need for such a centre to be established so that Chinese specialists carry out the monitoring and evaluation processes.

"Continuous support from both the UAE and China is of vital importance to the sustainable development of Chinese learning and teaching at schools," the report highlighted.

In 2017, the Ministry of Education’s Under-Secretaries, Dr. Harmad Al Yahyaei and Matar Alhameli, visited the Confucius Institute Headquarters, Hanban, in Beijing to discuss how the Chinese language curriculum would be implemented in UAE schools.

A report was submitted to the Ministry of Education by the Confucius Institute’s Professor Zhiping Zhu and Dr Xiaoming Lan in July 2017, marking progress on the Chinese language programme’s implementation. Two months later, following a rigourous selection and training process, the first 20 Chinese language teachers were recruited and deployed to 11 public schools to teach Chinese to grade 10 students.

The UAE Ministry of Education announced last year that Chinese language would be taught in 100 schools in 2019 through student clubs, to 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade students.

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