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Change in Teaching Beliefs When Teaching Abroad? A Case Study on Confucius Institute Chinese Teachers' Teaching Experiences in the US

Lihong Wang

Background of the study

As an initiative of the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) to promote Chinese language and culture to the world, Confucius Institutes (CI) are thriving across the globe. In the United States, by the end of 2014, there were 100 Confucius Institutes (CI) hosted at universities, which has created a much greater demand for Chinese teachers to be sent to the United States from China. In view of the exponential increase in the number of the CIs in the United States, some universities there worry that 'the Chinese-language education provided by CI will fall short of standard proficiency' (Redden, 2012). At the same time, the priority for CI development in this new era has also shifted from quantity increase to quality assurance by strengthening professional training before sending Chinese teachers abroad. However, researchers have noted that although native language teachers have linguistic competency and the advantage of being 'a living example of the pragmatics of the target language . .. these desirable traits, however, do not always transfer automatically into good teaching, and more common than not, these traits can lead to disaster when the person is untutored in American pedagogy' (Schrier, 1994, p. 56; cited in Haley & Ferro, 2011, p. 291).

Given the research results showing that teachers' classroom practice is heavily influenced by their beliefs about teaching and learning (Borg,

2003; Freeman, 2002; Williams & Burden, 1997) and that these beliefs are susceptible to change (Barcelos & Kalaja, 2003), it is necessary to explore and uncover what teaching beliefs CI teachers embrace about effective Chinese language teaching and how these teachers' beliefs interact with the ideology and pedagogy of the host culture. It is also important to determine what happens to their established beliefs as a result of exposure and interaction through professional development organised by the host university.

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