In response to online discussion about further promoting traditional Chinese culture in the classroom, the Chinese Ministry of Education (MoE) recently said that education about traditional Chinese culture and cultural confidence is and always has been a high priority for the ministry. New curriculum standards show how foreign language learning can support this.
The statement comes as a response to a deputy of the National People’s Congress, who suggested “exposing children to more Chinese culture at a critical time in the formation of their worldview, and increasing their cultural pride and confidence from an early age,” by spending less classroom time learning foreign languages such as English.
The MoE was quick to release a statement, saying “Foreign languages are an important part of students’ overall moral, intellectual, physical and aesthetic development, and help cultivate and develop students’ core literacy factors such as language skills, cultural awareness, thinking quality and learning ability, as well as their Chinese sentiment, international perspective and cross-cultural communication skills,” according to the Global Times.
But on the subject of traditional Chinese culture in the classroom, the MoE also stressed that “the teaching of traditional Chinese culture is not contradictory to the current foreign language teaching schedule…. education about traditional Chinese culture and cultural confidence has always been a high priority for the ministry.”
The Global Times article goes on to explain that “the MOE plans to further strengthen education about excellent Chinese traditional culture and guide students to strengthen their cultural confidence and promote excellent Chinese traditional culture.”
In looking at how language study at Chinese schools compares over the past two decades, Global Times notes that there has been no change in the proportion of time students spend learning foreign languages, but simply an addition to the goals of learning them:
“…compared with the curriculum standards implemented in 2001, the percentage of foreign language lessons has always been 6-8 percent. It is worth noting that what differs in these two versions of the curriculum standards is the description of the goals for foreign language learning.
In the new curriculum standards, the goals of students learning English at the basic education level include “comparing the similarities and differences between Chinese and foreign cultures and deepening their understanding” and “strengthening the identification with Chinese culture.”
As Cultural Keys has previously written, we think the study of traditional Chinese culture, at any age and by any group, can have profound benefits. This is perhaps even more true in young learners. Whether that is expat children exploring the nature of traditional Chinese culture for the first time, or Chinese youngsters being given more opportunity to not just hear about but to experience the treasures of Chinese culture for themselves, the opportunity to give lessons and opportunities for growth that will stay with young minds for a lifetime is very precious indeed.
Cultural Keys is honoured to be able to offer such opportunities to both expat and Chinese children. Through both our international school Chinese culture programs and our ‘English through Culture’ programs for local schools, we have been given the gift of providing access to traditional Chinese culture in English, with all the interest and enjoyment that it brings our young learners, and we are very grateful for that.
As we place our hopes for a better future on the bright, curious minds of today’s youth, the importance of ‘Global Citizenship’ has never been more clear. As facilitators that help others access knowledge beyond everyday experiences, we must always be looking for ways to help children understand not just themselves, but also the wider world around them, both their place in it and how they can better interact with it. In doing so, we can help them understand the similarities they share with others and the differences that make them unique and special; we can help them express who they are, their culture, their beliefs, what their hopes and dreams are, and understand and respect those of others.
For us, this is why using English to teach traditional Chinese culture, Chinese arts and crafts, Chinese history, philosophy and more is so important. If we can help with language skills so that Chinese citizens can better interact with the wider world; if we can offer understanding and insight so that the wider world is better able to understand Chinese culture and its importance – then we will have made some small contribution to making the world a better place.
And hopefully, that will make us better global citizens too!
See the original statement from the Ministry of Education here.
If you would like more information about Cultural Keys’ Chinese culture programs for schools, work places, embassies or for your private group, or to know more about our English Through Culture programs, please add CulturalKeysCCC on WeChat or email us email@example.com.
– Cultural Keys
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About Cultural Keys – The Chinese Culture Company
Cultural Keys helps people access, understand and experience the traditional culture of China. Click the image above to read more about Cultural Keys and what we can do for you, your school, company or organisation to help you get more out of your time in China!