Karina Galve is thinking about how to walk from her friend’s house to hers in Mandarin Chinese in the Mandarin level two class.
The MU Confucius Institute was established in 2011. It is one of 512 institutes established around the world by Hanban, a subsidiary of the Chinese Ministry of Education, which provides Chinese language and cultural teaching resources. The institute focuses on teaching Chinese classes, celebrating Chinese culture through community events and researching the impact of learning Chinese.
The instructors of the courses are called volunteers because they are paid such a small salary, Dean of the Confucius Institute Dan Li says. They are expected to work at least 15 credit hours a week through the Mizzou Mandarin program and their classes at Columbia Public Schools. The MU Confucius Institute projects will have “about 1,460 students in [their] classes during the 2016-2017 school year.”
Miajiao Zhang is a volunteer instructor who teaches Mizzou Mandarin level one and gentry level Mandarin to seventh graders. Zhang has a more casual teaching style that is effective when teaching adults, she says.
Zhang makes 8,000 yuan a month, which equals $1,120 in the United States. An MU English professor makes an average salary of $65,236, which is $5,436 each month, according to St Louis Today.
Hanban gave the MU Confucius Institute around $200,000 this past year, Li says. Hanban, the Confucius Institute Headquarters, also gives $7,000 worth of textbooks to established Institutes like the MU Confucius Institute every year, according to hanban.org. The money is used to pay volunteers, fund events like the Chinese New Year celebration and the Lunar celebration, and allow the Institute to hold free weekly Mandarin Chinese classes.
Mizzou Mandarin offers a level two Mandarin course as well. Anyone who thinks they are ready for more complex lessons is able to attend the class. One of the volunteer instructors for level two is Ying Li. Her teaching style is more immersive, she says, by having students watch movies, watch television shows, and listen to music.
Bridget Caddell was a student in the Mizzou Mandarin level two course. She learns best when the volunteer instructors use catchy songs like the Ni Hao song, she says. Caddell also works as the Program Coordinator of the MU Confucius Institute, where she designs graphics to promote the Mizzou Mandarin classes and MU Confucius Institute events.
The class sizes and event attendance sizes have grown over the last two years, Dean of the MU Confucius Institute Dan Li says. Some instructors, like Kathy Zhang, hope more is done to increase promotion of the programs online.
Caddell creates promotional content for the MU Confucius Institute, which is then shared by Dan Li and the volunteer instructors online and on paper. This is done to organize a series of Chinese cultural events outside of the Mizzou Mandarin classes. Every week, the volunteer instructors and Li meet to discuss how they can make their course content better.