Confucian Institutes are nonprofit entities sponsored by the Chinese government to help teach Chinese culture, and language to students in foreign countries. The institute is headquartered in Beijing’s Xicheng district and operated by Hanban, a non-governmental institution associated with the Chinese Ministry of Education. In addition, these institutes hope to help train professionals that one day might be involved in international trade between China and the host country. The use of Confucius as the representative of these institutes has been a strategic choice by the Chinese government to avoid the implication of Communist ideology being taught at these schools. Polarizing political figures may have created suspicion about the Institutes motives.
With over 320 institutes worldwide, the institute works hand in hand with local academic institutions to teach their curriculum at the primary, secondary and collegiate level. Presently, there are 71 Confucian Institutes in the United States, making it the country with the most schools. Other countries with significant amounts of Confucian Institutes include Korea, Japan, England, Germany and France. Michigan State University’s Confucius Institute is regarded as the best among all its peers, having won Confucius Institute of Year three years in a row.
In addition to classroom teaching, the Confucian Institute has outreach programs that present workshops on Chinese culture to the public, which include the making of handicrafts. Book clubs also assist in teaching Chinese history and culture to aspiring Sinophiles. Language teachers often will go to local elementary, middle, and high schools to teach beginner Mandarin; the program also incorporates free language training through online courses and instructional videos. Advanced students will have the opportunity to prepare for and take the HSK, a standardized test for measuring your Mandarin skill level.
Chinese teachers (volunteers) that seek to take part in the overseas program must meet the following criteria. They must have a bachelor’s degree, have native speaking Mandarin skills, be between the ages of 22 to 60, have no criminal record or participation in Falun Gong, and have the ability to live in another country. The institute offers training programs and certifications for non-Native Chinese to help teach about Chinese culture and history. Volunteers will earn an $800 a month stipend to help assist with the costs of living abroad.
The Confucius Institute uses 5 models to establish a relationship with another entity in a foreign country. They are
1) A partnership between a foreign university and a Chinese University
2) A partnership between a Chinese secondary school and a foreign secondary school
3) A partnership between a foreign nongovernmental organization and a Chinese University
4) A partnership between a foreign government and a Chinese government
5) A partnership between an enterprise and a University