In October 2019, a group researching Chinese as a second language visited four tertiary institutes in Vietnam to better understand how Chinese is taught there. Dr Liang Yuan, Assistant Director of CRCLE and Assistant Professor of Department of Chinese Language Studies, said the purpose of the visit was to study the feasibility of replicating the Hong Kong experience under the Belt and Road framework. The team is exploring collaborative opportunities for research, student recruitment and academic exchange. Dr Liang mentioned the lack of teaching materials in Vietnam, where four universities shared a single textbook. Therefore, together with 13 teachers from these four universities—University of Languages and International Studies under Vietnam National University, Foreign Trade University, Hanoi University and Thang Long University—the EdUHK research team formulated teaching plans for Chinese Language teachers. The plans were submitted to experts for assessment. After a trial run, the draft was fine-tuned and printed as a collection of high-quality Chinese Language teaching plans. This has been augmented by workshops in May and June 2020 for the sharing of experiences from other regions, including the Greater Bay Area.
Professor Zhu Qingzhi, Director of CRCLE and Chair Professor of Chinese Language, explained “Hanyu re”, or “Chinese language fever”. The increasing popularity of the Chinese language worldwide has led to a greater number of professionals. In Japan and Korea, for instance, the teaching of Chinese as a second language is quite a mature field. Vietnam’s situation is quite special, and Hong Kong is in a unique position to fill the gap in learning and teaching. “As an established multilingual city, Hong Kong has a competitive edge in teaching and research on Chinese language,” said Professor Zhu.
CRCLE delegates also visited three tertiary institutes in Beijing last October. Following successful academic exchanges, a faculty exchange programme was drawn up between EdUHK and Peking University. Professor Zhu believes that teaching and research complement each other. As the quality of research increases, so too does the teaching standard. It is believed that with the establishment of CRCLE, EdUHK will be able to push further its research progress and raise its performance in the Research Assessment Exercise. The centre also aims to collaborate with more pioneering institutions in different regions.
In the meantime, CRCLE has six Honorary Consultants who are top scholars from world-renowned universities: Peking University, Beijing Language and Culture University, Zhejiang University, Princeton University in the US, and Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (Inaclo) in France.