From December 7th to 9th, 2023, the vibrant capital of China played host to a gathering of over 3700 representatives from Confucius Institutes, Chinese language education organizations, and universities across 160 countries and regions. The inaugural World Chinese Language Conference took place at the CNCC (国家会议中心) near the Olympic Park in Beijing. The event was hosted by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, with organizational support from the Center for Language, Education and Cooperation, the Chinese International Education Foundation, and the International Society for Chinese Language Teaching
The focal themes of these three days were ‘Chinese for the World’ and ‘Openness for the Future.’ As representatives of the Confucius Institute of Pisa, we actively participated in the working meeting of Chinese Proficiency Test centers. This engaging panel included an awards presentation session, acknowledging outstanding test centers, esteemed partners, and noteworthy contributions to Chinese language proficiency tests. Among the distinguished speakers was Maria Omodeo from Italy, the Chairperson of the Florence Chinese Learning and Testing Center.
The first day showcased the highly anticipated countdown for the launch of the new version of the Chinesetest website. Currently available in Chinese and English, efforts are underway to expand its language offerings to include more than 10 languages. The revamped website is designed to be more user-friendly, especially for a younger audience. Excitingly, Chinesetest has officially ventured into the realm of social media.
In a world dominated by growing artificial intelligence, the survival of our institutes became a recurring question.
Strategic Focus Areas
We recognize and build upon our strengths:
- Direct collaborations with universities.
- Strong community connections.
- The significance of HSK centers.
- A longstanding presence in the community.
As the largest community language initiative globally, we champion a people-to-people approach and actively promote international communication. Focusing on implementing online lessons, studying platforms, and brand building is imperative for thriving in the contemporary world. Noteworthy is the digital transformation evident in the Chinese Plus platform, a collaborative effort by over 20 organizations, including Alibaba Group, Fudan University, and Continental Han Feng Network Technology.
Significant updates include the introduction of new vocabulary for HSK levels 1 to 6, aligning with the technological landscape. Textbooks will undergo revisions, and future exams will feature questions on Chinese culture, covering aspects like places and cuisine.
The conference hosted forums on Chinese tests contributing to the development of international trade in services, including discussions on the Belt and Road Initiative. Workshops also explored the new generation of young sinologists and the promotion of language education facilitating higher education cooperation and international student exchanges.
Throughout the three-day conference, a permanent exhibition showcased leading Chinese universities and top companies developing software or apps for learning Chinese.
The final day of the conference culminated in a closing ceremony presided over by Dr. MA Jianfei, Director-General of CLEC, and Dr. CHEN Jie, Vice Minister of Education. This marked the poignant conclusion to a series of insightful and collaborative sessions.
As we bid farewell to this dynamic gathering, we reflect on the wealth of knowledge shared and the connections forged. The commitment to advancing Chinese language education, fostering international cooperation, and embracing the challenges posed by technological advancements has been evident throughout. The closing ceremony encapsulated the spirit of unity and purpose that defined these three days, leaving us inspired and poised for the exciting future that lies ahead.
Written by Ida Fiore, Programme Manager of the Confucius Institute of Pisa