WOU has plans to offer an elective course on Teaching Mandarin as a Second Language to students and the public, through collaboration with Kong Zi Institute, University of Malaya (UM).
Another aspect of the collaboration is for the Institute to leverage on WOU’s expertise on open distance learning (ODL) to offer online courses, including the online teaching of Mandarin.
These were the two main points discussed at a meeting at the main campus on March 16th between a delegation from the Institute and WOU senior management. WOU was represented by Pro-Chancellor Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic-ODL) Prof Madhulika Kaushik, Chief Administrative Officer Yeong Sik Kheong and other senior management staff.
The delegation comprised Mr Chen Zhong, Chinese Director; Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Azarae Hj Idris, Director (Malaysia); Ms Li Rui, Professional Teacher; and Ms Nurabiatul Adawiah Sarif, Assistant Project Officer.
Dr Koh remarked that with the emergence of China as a very strong economic power and its huge market, Mandarin is gaining popularity and there is a need for proper learning of the language. He added that the Kong Zi Institute was set up in UM in 2009 through an agreement between the government of Malaysia and the government of China.
Chen stated that the host universities for the Institute are Beijing Foreign Studies University and UM. He shared that some 7,000 students, mostly non-Chinese, from 12 public institutions are pursuing the course through the Institute in UM. The Institute has 9 partner public universities - including Universiti Utara Malaysia which makes it compulsory for every business school student to learn Mandarin through the Institute. He said another 5 public universities will be added as partners this year and they are also reaching out to international schools.
Dr Azarea clarified that it is an MQA-approved 6-levels Mandarin language course, equivalent to intermediate level of proficiency. Each level takes 10 weeks for completion, or 60 weeks to complete all levels of this 2-credit course.
Under the proposed collaboration, the Institute will provide a teacher from China to teach WOU students and the public. WOU plans to kickstart by offering the Mandarin course to the public, and subsequently as an elective course to students. Towards this purpose, WOU hopes to sign an agreement with UM to become its partner, with a separate agreement later for their online collaboration.
Chen stressed that Kong Zi institute very much wants to move into online teaching in view of increasing demand for its teachers. He said the teaching materials and textbooks for their existing courses are from China.
Prof Madhulika said WOU is keen to partner with Kong Zi to convert their teaching materials for the online mode, namely in working with them to package their materials in distance learning format and to provide the delivery platform.
Following the meeting, the visitors were taken on a tour of the campus to look at the facilities available.