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Vol. 46, No. 65
September 10, 2012

New Chinese Language Program Supports International Education

Columbia Public Schools (CPS) and the University of Missouri's (MU) Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs/Confucius Institute signed a memorandum of understanding Friday to develop a new Chinese language program beginning fall 2013. Three Chinese teachers from Shanghai Normal University and Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, located in China, will be paired with educators at CPS to co-teach Chinese.

"It is vitally important that all children have access to a world language, such as Chinese, in this increasingly competitive global economy," said Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. "I applaud Columbia Public Schools and the University of Missouri on their efforts to make language and cultural diversity a priority in education."

The Chinese language program will be offered beginning in the seventh grade at the following Columbia Public Schools: Ann Hawkins Gentry Middle School, Jefferson Jr. High School, Lange Middle School, Oakland Jr. High School, Smithton Middle School and West Jr. High School. In preparation for the new curriculum next fall, CPS teachers will participate in a Chinese language training program. Additionally, CPS is offering pilot language, cultural and art teaching fall semester 2012 and spring semester 2013.

Discussions about this program began in March 2010 between CPS and MU's Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs. During this time, MU was applying for permission to establish a Confucius Institute at the university, which opened in April 2011.

Conversation about developing a Chinese language program resumed in January 2012 at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's International Education Summit hosted by Commissioner Chris Nicastro. The summit featured presentations about international education opportunities, foreign language programs, and exchange programs for students, teachers and administrators.

The Confucius Institute is a nonprofit educational organization funded by the Chinese Ministry of Education and headquartered in Beijing, China. The organization teaches Chinese language and culture, conducts China-related research, promotes economic development, bridges cultural understanding, and expands business between China and other countries. For more information about the Confucius Institute at the University of Missouri, visit www.muvpipconfuciusinstitute.com.