Confucius Institute sponsors community courses

DOROTHY EDWARDS/Herald Celie Perkinsen, 3, of Bowling Green learns Chinese from Xiaoye Yang, 23, of Hebei Province, China at the Warren County Public Library on Wednesday, Aug.12. Yang is working on her master’s degree at WKU and this is the first time she has taught preschool age kids. “It’s a big challenge,” Yang said.

Taylor Harrison

The Confucius Institute is reaching out of WKU and into the community to teach children. The group is sponsoring a program to teach preschool children basic Chinese for a six-week series and a session for middle- and high-school home-schooled students that will last most of the semester.  

Two Chinese volunteer teachers from the Confucius Institute, Lydia Yang and Jasmine Wang, started the preschool class at the main Warren County Public Library on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. At the first lesson, they taught the children numbers one through five in Chinese as well as the word for “hello.” 

“We had a lot of fun,” Wang said. “There was a few students, but we enjoyed the class, and we do a lot of things in the class.” 

Wang said when they were finished with the class, one of the students could speak all the numbers and the word for “hello.”

“This is a new experience for us, and we prepared for a long time,” Yang said.

Yang also said they did a dance with the children to reiterate the lesson. 

Betty Yu, assistant director for educational outreach at the Confucius Institute, said they use activities to keep the children interested. 

“The little kids have less attention span, so they need several different activities,” Yu said. 

Yu said they’re focusing on community outreach and promoting language and culture to the entire population. She said she feels that preschool children can be overlooked.

“They’re going to make it fun,” Yu said. “So, when they make it fun, it will be very engaging.”

The middle- and high-school-aged home-school children meet on Thursdays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. from Sept. 13 to Dec. 6 in the Helm Library.

“Middle and high school is completely language lessons,” Yu said. “If they were in a regular junior high, it would be the same language lesson.”

Wang said the focus of the first class for the home-schoolers is basic Chinese language and characters.

Stephanie Wycihowski, youth outreach coordinator at the Warren County Public Library, said they have a partnership with the Confucius Institute, and they are mostly just the host institution for the class.

“We’re advertising for them,” Wycihowski said. “We’ve also, you know, purchased some bi-lingual materials to, you know, be an accompaniment to what they’re doing,” 

Wycihowski said they have materials for beginners that have already been circulating.

“It’s the perfect time for them at that age to be learning the languages,” Wycihowski said. “I think it’s a lot harder as an adult to learn those languages.”