Growth in Number of Confucius Institutes
Some figures illustrating the growth of Confucius Institutes around the world are briefly outlined in this section. It should be clarified, however, that Confucius Institutes are clearly not the only providers of Chinese language teaching in national contexts. Chinese language teaching is long-established in many countries and is taught in a wide range of institutional structures and contexts in a given country (Starr 2009).
Information from the Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters website (Hanban 2014a) indicates that, having been founded in 2004, by 2014, 443 Confucius Institutes had been established round the world in 115 countries. They are distributed as follows: 95 in Asian countries, 38 in African countries, 144 in America (the categorization covers Canada, the US and Latin America), 149 in European countries and 17 in countries in Oceania. The total number of
Confucius Classrooms created throughout the world is 648 with the vast majority of these in the US and in Europe.
At 149, Europe has the largest number of institutes and they are widely spread. In many countries, there are several institutes. There is an almost similar number of Confucius Classrooms (153). Negotiations are underway to create new institutes and to expand the number of classrooms in Europe. In America (see definition above), the number of Confucius Institutes has grown significantly and stands at 144. Of these, 13 are in Canada where there are also a number of Confucius Classrooms.
But the US stands out as showing the highest numbers of both institutes and classrooms. Of the 144 Confucius Institutes in America (see definition above), the vast majority, 97, are in the US. The striking figure from the US data is the number of Confucius Classrooms which stands at 357. This shows a remarkable rate of expansion over a short time. It also seems to highlight the importance of Confucius Classrooms as a way of providing direct pedagogic support for providers of Chinese in the US. Teachers urgently need access to materials both print and digital, they need opportunities to meet and network, to share and collaborate around approaches to teaching and they need access to continuous professional development. Based on the trends in the US, it would appear that the Confucius Classroom model is seen as a way of providing these kinds of supports.
These figures would need further review and analysis to draw more complete inferences from the patterns of growth. But even a short overview reveals that the demand for Chinese is growing and that expansion is spread across all continents. Certain countries, notably, the US and in Europe have clearly embarked on a plan to promote Chinese and to invest and support its development. However, it is too early to anticipate how this trend will grow. This investment in the development of Chinese language teaching has paralleled a period of double digit economic expansion from a very low base to a point where China is now the second largest economy in the world. While there is a plan to massively expand the number of Confucius Institutes and Classrooms, future expansion may be hampered by global events such as a shift in the world economy or in global geo-political factors.