In a global market where the Chinese influence is constantly on the rise, there have been, not surprisingly, a craze for learning Mandarin across borders; many countries have listed Mandarin as a focus in foreign language education and there are numerous training institutes offering courses in teaching Mandarin as a second language. In Taiwan, institutes as such enroll local Taiwanese students, many of which choose to go abroad to become Mandarin teachers to foreigners. Differently put, we have been “exporting” teachers of Mandarin as L2.
On the other way round, however, we wonder if soliciting internationals to be trained as teachers of L2 Chinese would be an equally valid idea, given the fact that we are now in this reciprocal global context? The foundation of such an argument lies in that these trained internationals would have a firmer grasp of their own cultural backgrounds after they go back to their home countries and hence would be keener in bridging up the cultural differences.
Hence in response to the policy of the Ministry of Education: Higher Education Export by Enrolling International Students, under which the two main themes are to enhance friendlier campus and to market studying in Taiwan, Tunghai University establishes Master Program of Teaching Mandarin as a Second Language.
This program enrolls internationals with various native languages and different cultural backgrounds. In contrast to training students whose native language is Mandarin to teach Mandarin as a second language where the training focus is primarily on “How to Teach,” our program focuses on “How Learners Should Learn,” which is a focal point of departure from the other way around.
When internationals come to study in Taiwan in a university setting, they are already learning Mandarin in daily life. Those successful learners are often the ones with excellent learning strategies. Such a total immersion on top of our course design will be a definitely a plus for those intending to pursue teaching Mandarin as a second language.
The strength of our program is drawn from all the departments of the College of Arts, including Chinese Department, Foreign Languages and Literature Department, History Department, Japanese Department, Philosophy Department, and the English Language Center as well as our Chinese Language Center under THU Office of International Relations.
Our international faculty, special course design and bilingual instruction (English/Chinese) will help construct ability in linguistic analysis and reinforce delivery in teaching. Besides obtaining a major here in Taiwan, our program offers the opportunity of a second specialty. It is hoped that there will soon be many foreign teachers of Mandarin as a second language.