Dulwich Mandarin Teachers’ Conference 2014

When you have more than 120 mandarin teachers in one place discussing the learning and teaching of Chinese language and culture, you can be guaranteed of a lively (renao 热闹) and friendly (youhao 友好) atmosphere. Throw in two of the world’s foremost leaders in the field of Chinese language learning against the backdrop of one of China’s more famous historical and cultural cities and the recipe is complete. The second Dulwich Mandarin Teachers’ Conference was held at Dulwich College Suzhou from the 8th to the 10th August. Teachers from all seven Dulwich College International campuses - Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou, Suzhou International High School, Singapore, Seoul, and Zhuhai International High School- attended the conference. Presenters included the world-renowned Sinologist, Professor Joel Bellassen, and Professor George Zhang, a professor of Chinese and Director of the Centre for Modern Languages at Richmond University in the UK. Professor Bellassen is one of the handful of foreigners who came to China as a student in 1973 when the country had just re-opened its doors to the world. Today he leads the Chinese language programme for over 600 French state schools as an Inspector General for the Ministry of Education. He is probably most famous for co-authoring a seminal work on learning Chinese: “Initiation to Chinese Language and Writing” (Méthode d'Initiation à la Langue et à l'Écriture chinoises), one of the main textbooks used to teach Chinese in French secondary schools. A frequent visitor to China, Professor Bellassen presented a number of workshops on the instruction of Mandarin utilising cultural signifiers like food, the characters and Chinese idioms (chengyu 成语). There were a wide range of workshops on various topics relevant to the teaching and learning of the Chinese language and culture, with a shared focus on optimising students’ learning experience. Susan Stinson and Emily Gu shared their rich experience in the delivery of a Dual Language programme at Dulwich Shanghai while John Todd, Headmaster, Dulwich Suzhou, spoke on their Looking for Learning project. Brian McDouall, Director of Schools at DCI, introduced DCIQT (Dulwich College International Qualified Teacher) programme, the aim of which is to provide Chinese language teachers in the group with a route to become qualified as Dulwich international teachers with the attendant responsibilities, benefits and status.  David Mansfield, Headmaster at Dulwich Beijing also gave key note presentations on the importance and direction of the Mandarin curriculum development within their schools. Ms Annabel Parker, the Director of Mandarin and main organiser of the event was pleased that the teachers enjoyed the interaction with the guest presenters and their colleagues from other Dulwich schools as well. “This is only our second conference but we are really seeing the benefits of collaboration and the sharing of teaching practices. Our Mandarin teachers are a passionate group of educators and they love the learning opportunities that the conference provides.” The group also welcomed the newest Dulwich Mandarin department in the Dulwich College International Group with Ms Zhu Wenhong, Head of Mandarin at Dulwich College in Singapore, attending her first conference. Please enjoy the gallery below: