China Studies Seminar

Participants in the 2014 China Studies Seminar

As the field of Chinese language teaching and learning in American schools continues to develop, it will be increasingly important for teachers to incorporate aspects of traditional, as well as contemporary, Chinese culture and society into their classrooms. The China Studies Seminar is unique in its focus on the application of current trends and perspectives in society, arts, and culture to the teaching of the Chinese language.

The program has two aims: to provide Chinese language teachers with an opportunity to update their knowledge in areas such as China’s contemporary arts, culture, and society; and to help teachers consider ways to bring these developments to their students and incorporate the latest developments and trends into their teaching.

This seminar brings together two teachers from each school: a Chinese language teacher and a teacher of another subject in an effort to foster collaboration between subject areas, enrich content, and integrate relevant Chinese elements into more classes. The week-long seminar consists of expert speakers on a timely, China-related theme, as well as practical workshops on incorporating China into existing curriculum in an engaging way. At the conclusion of the workshop, teachers design a roadmap to implement plans in their classrooms.


Previous China Studies Seminars

2016 Seminar

July 18–23, 2016 | Shanghai

The 2016 China Studies Seminar brought 33 teachers from 15 schools across the U.S. to Shanghai, China to build bridges between cultures, classrooms, and curriculum.

Bridges were built and perspectives broadened during the 2016 China Studies Seminar, which took place in Shanghai, July 18–23, 2016. This program, led by the Center for Global Education at Asia Society’s China Learning Initiatives, hosted by East China Normal University, is part of what our work at Asia Society is all about.

The essence of the China Studies Seminar is connections. First, we aim to build connections between colleagues who otherwise might not work together. The week-long intensive seminar brings together a pair of teachers from 15 schools—a Chinese Language teacher and a teacher of another subject—to foster collaboration between subject areas, enrich content, and integrate relevant and timely Chinese elements into more classes. 

Second, we strive to establish connections between Chinese and Americans by encouraging seminar attendees to interact with regular Chinese people. For example, seminar attendees visited learning centers for both senior citizens and children, where each showed their work enthusiastically; a co-working space for start-ups that could have been mistaken for a hip spot in Brooklyn; and public spaces, where they chatted with monks on the street, shoppers in malls, and three generations of women sipping localized beverages at a Starbucks beside an ancient temple.

Finally, we make a connection to the classroom through training in multi-disciplinary lesson planning. Teachers engaged in practical workshops on incorporating China into existing curricula and designed a roadmap to implement plans crafted in the workshop in order to have something concrete to bring back to their students from this trip.

Immersion in a different society and contact with people from all walks of life is the best way to foster connection at a very human level, across different worldviews. We’re privileged to be able to facilitate this kind of important bridge building through our China Studies Seminar.

Watch the seminar video for more highlights.


2015 Seminar

July 12–18, 2015 | Shanghai

As the world embraces China's geopolitically significant "One Belt, One Road" Initiative, named in tribute of the ancient Silk Road, Asia Society’s China Learning Initiatives organized the 2015 China Studies Seminar, entitled "Silk Road Connects the World," in Shanghai in July 2015.

The progressive seminar brought together two teachers from each school: a Chinese Language teacher and a teacher of another subject in an effort to foster collaboration between subject areas, enrich content, and integrate relevant and timely Chinese elements into more classes. The week-long seminar consisted of expert speakers on the Silk Road, old and new, as well as a practical workshop on incorporating China into existing curriculum in an engaging way, led by long-time Asia Society partner Dr. Wu Wei-Ling. At the conclusion of the workshop, teachers designed a roadmap to implement plans in their classrooms. Watch the seminar video and download lesson plans created by participating teachers.


2014 Seminar

July 13–19, 2014 | Shanghai

In cooperation with our partner, East China Normal University (ECNU), the 2014 China Studies Seminar offered a series of lectures, discussions, and field experiences with ECNU faculty and other experts on topics related to arts, culture, and society in China around the theme of "Two Nations, One Dream." The aim was to show contemporary China from various angles to not only Chinese language teachers, but also to their teaching colleagues from other subject areas. It is our hope that teachers would reflect on their own understanding of China and the U.S. and inspire their students with collaborations between subject areas. At the conclusion of the seminar, participating teachers worked in pairs and created lesson plans that could be used in their classrooms. Read more about this seminar and download lesson plans and view photos from this program.


2013 Seminar

July 14–23, 2013 | Shanghai

With the topic "Tradition and Transformation in Contemporary China," this seminar explored the ways in which contemporary China is experiencing a resurgence of interest in the Chinese past and traditional forms of art, culture, and thought, including architecture, music, literature, philosophy, Chinese traditional opera and performing arts, and calligraphy and painting.

Following an overview of trends in Chinese culture, participants interacted with scholars and experts in a number of fields, including literature, music, and architecture; structured experiences at museums and theaters; and workshops on integrating cultural elements into Chinese language classes. With the help of language education and curriculum design experts, participants worked in groups to integrate the cultural elements they have explored in Shanghai into their Chinese language teaching and to prepare units that can be used immediately in their classrooms. Read more about this seminar and view photos.

Hear from the experts