News & Events


Posted on 09 Jul 2019 in CLTalk

On Friday 28thJune, London sparkled in the glowing sunshine whilst Kings College London hosted a wonderful rich packed programme for their International Symposium on Intercultural Communication and Chinese Language Teaching.  There were lots of stories, experiences and projects being shared amongst this community of Chinese Teachers, who came from far and wide, representing different Universities and Language Schools.  There was certainly plenty to learn and share from the occasion.


The day began with a warm welcome from Professor Constant Leung, from the School of Education, Community and Society and then the day flowed from one interesting talk to another describing different projects and insights around the world of Chinese Language Teaching.


Dr. Lianyi Song surprised the audience with his not so perfect experiences of putting together two language programmes.  He engaged straight away with all the delegates present by involving them from the start.  It was told with blunt honesty and humour, captivating the audience’s attention and imagination.


He described in detail two specific projects he has helped to design and implement between SOAS and other institutions in China.  His jovial and entertaining talk was greeted with much amusement and laughter because it illustrated the challenges in marketing language programmes that are appealing because of the restrictions often imposed within China.   Combining language learning in traditional classroom setting with the sought after ‘work experience’ is just not available like it is on other language programmes. Why would a company accept a candidate who isn’t proficient in the language to do work experience? So that is the challenge that SOAS and it’s partners had to work around in order to create programmes that are both acceptable and attractive for students. These examples illustrated the common experiences that many other people present could identify with.

Despite the obstacles, SOAS worked around these and created two very successful but very different courses whilst satisfying the very different needs of students.

One involved the more traditional approach to language learning which included classroom teaching and company experience whilst the other programme was more culture focused, offering students the experience to stay at a Chinese Taoist temple where they could study Taoist classical and modern Chinese texts together with Chinese medicine and Kung Fu!

Dr. Lianyi accompanied the group that stayed at the temple and being curious and thinking ‘why not’ also embraced the experience and got involved in the various cultural learning activities. He shared with us some photos, one of which capturing him in a kung fu pose!


Dr. Jing Fang from Oxford University came on to the podium with much energy and lots to explain. Her talk described with many examples how Chinese New words have come about from cultural, economic and social change.  This ancient language has in recent times been forced to expand to accommodate all the development that has occurred in the last 50/60 years.

One of her examples of change described China’s class structure which illustrated the divide within society.   This was received with much amusement from the academics present because it showed where they have sat.   Put simply there was only one way for them to go and that was up!


The rest of the day carried on with continued energy and enthusiasm.  The whole programme offered a wonderful platform for all to share, network and learn from.  What was common amongst many of the talks is that Chinese like all languages can’t be taught in isolation; students need but also want to understand the history, politics and culture and to do this, they need to experience China for themselves to make learning Chinese a complete success.


There was such a lovely informality about the Symposium and it was nicely punctuated with funny anecdotes which clearly engaged the delegates present because they could relate to them, talk about them and also learn from them.  It was clear that people were very engaged with the topics being discussed as there were many questions being asked during the different Q & A sessions.


Well done and thank you Hongfen and the rest of the team from Kings College for organising a great day!