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Published November 26, 2019

Providing opportunities to learn Mandarin language abroad

GSE project focuses on research and training through Chinese culture

Lilliam Malavé Lopez, associate professor from the Department of Learning and Instruction (LAI), received her second Fulbright-Hays Program grant to start an 18-month project for language and culture content training along with research through immersion in Mandarin language and Chinese culture. “The purpose of this project is to contribute to the improvement of modern foreign languages and area studies in the U.S. by providing opportunities for faculty, students and teachers to study in a foreign country,” says Malavé Lopez. “We want to increase the Mandarin language capacity and Chinese culture knowledge of the participants.”

Malavé Lopez also notes that the research study will be integrated into the evaluation plan to manage how well participants learned Mandarin language and the Chinese culture. When the participants return they will complete capstone events, such as teaching Mandarin and Chinese culture in their local schools. In addition, they will write articles for newsletters and journals, make conference presentations, and participate in advocacy initiatives to promote the expansion of Chinese culture, international studies and Mandarin programs in schools.

“More U.S. parents and students themselves are beginning to believe that learning Mandarin will open more opportunities for the future,” says Malavé Lopez. “However, the main obstacle is getting Mandarin teachers to the U.S., as there are visa problems in bringing teachers from China, but the biggest barrier is the lack of certified teachers, as there are cultural and teaching differences between the U.S. and China.” According to Malavé Lopez, teaching in China is generally not done by exploration and analysis and therefore, the change to western, interactive styles of instruction is a substantial barrier.

This project plans to strengthen GSE’s international presence and advance its commitment by preparing students to appreciate many cultures. Malavé Lopez notes that GSE leverages a diverse portfolio of institutional partnerships. This project adds to the portfolio by establishing a relationship between the Gengdan Institute in Beijing, China and GSE to further develop the foreign/second language education area that serves GSE and international students.

“As the project director, I am excited to establish new bonds with local educators who are interested in innovative ideas to improve the teaching and study of modern foreign/second languages,” says Malavé Lopez.

This project is a collaborative effort between GSE, LAI, the UB Office of International Education, the Gengdan Institute of Beijing, and the University of Technology, China, which collaborates with Hanban (Chinese Institute of Culture).

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