Joel Bellassen visits Cardiff Confucius Institute
28 November 2018
Cardiff Confucius Institute was delighted to host one of the most prominent academics in the field of Chinese Studies, Professor Joel Bellassen, on Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd November 2018.
On Thursday Professor Bellassen gave a talk to over 50 Cardiff University staff on ‘Exploring International Mobility from a Chinese Perspective’ where he used his deep understanding of the Chinese language to give an insight into Chinese students’ mindsets.
His talk highlighted that language and culture are intrinsically linked, and that by understanding some principles of the language, staff in UK universities can gain a better insight into the behaviours that many Chinese students exhibit in the classroom environment.
For example, the Chinese word ’学’ or ‘xué’, commonly interpreted in English as ‘study’, is actually more literally translated to the English word ‘imitate’. This subtle observation shows that from a Chinese perspective, ‘to study’ has connotations of imitation, repetition and rote learning, which differs from a European cultural understanding of the word which leans more towards investigation, application and reflection. In another example, he also highlighted that Chinese is a very visual language – indeed, the way to master it is by process of continually visualising, learning and copying the characters. It therefore follows that Chinese students tend to be more visual learners and are more responsive to use of the visual materials when learning.
The key message from Professor Bellassen was that there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way of learning. By understanding that a students’ primary language is not only how they communicate but also a reflection of their culture, staff teaching Chinese students can gain a better appreciation of students’ ways of learning and perhaps make adjustments accordingly.
On Friday, Professor Bellassen gave a training workshop for Chinese tutors teaching in the UK. The event was organised by Cardiff Confucius Institute and welcomed over 45 tutors from across Wales and the rest of the UK. It was a great honour to host Professor Bellassen in Cardiff and his teachings were greatly valued by all who attended.