In 2012 the European Commission and China authorities decided to launch a language initiative aimed at:
raising awareness of the importance of linguistic diversity in the EU;
- giving Chinese language teachers the opportunity to acquire additional in-depth knowledge of the languages and cultures of EU countries;
- offering training in the most modern methodologies and pedagogical approaches for language teaching;
exchanging good practice and creating cooperation links and networks.
The Commission identified a pool of EU universities which could provide high-level training to the Chinese teachers. On that basis the Chinese authorities selected five EU languages for training: French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish and nominated 18 teachers of these languages for participation. The specialised immersion courses took place in the universities of Heidelberg, Perugia, Nancy, Lisbon and Salamanca in July and August 2013.
Besides tuition, the Chinese teachers were offered cultural immersion activities to enhance their language training with historical, geographical and cultural aspects of the EU countries visited.
All feedback from participants so far has been very positive. At the end of each course, a survey is conducted among participants and universities. The results of the survey will be summarized in the report on the initiative. The Chinese authorities intend to disseminate the results of this initiative in their universities as this could serve as a model for future similar initiatives. On their side, EU hosting universities will disseminate the results to language departments in other universities.
At the end of the project and on the basis of an evaluation report, China might consider the possibility of scaling up and financing a similar training scheme within the context of the policy dialogue.