The Teaching of Chinese Language and Culture in Jamaica – A Case Study of the University of the West Indies, Mona and the Confucius Institute

Adrian A. Lindsay


The recent increase of global interest in all aspects of Chinese culture, language, economy and society has led to a growing demand for the instruction of the Chinese language/Mandarin. Mandarin is believed to be one of the most critical foreign languages to the advancement of national security and global competitiveness. Jamaica and China have had a longstanding diplomatic relationship for over 40 years. This relationship has led to the signing of bilateral agreements, the establishment of Chinese companies and businesses, and a nationwide awareness of the Chinese culture. This China-Jamaica relationship has sparked the need for locals to learn the Chinese language in an official setting to bridge the communication gap between the two peoples and to make themselves more marketable both locally and internationally. The two countries have worked together to establish Mandarin courses at the University of the West Indies (UWI) through the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, until the advent of the Confucius Institute whose aim has been to promote the Chinese language and culture in Jamaica. Despite their relentless effort to provide Mandarin courses at the university, the institute and at other institutions nationwide, there have been challenges in the areas of resourcing teachers and maintaining students’ interest, as well as issues in the classroom which result from the cultural differences between teachers and students. While these challenges were evident, the university and the Confucius Institute have been working towards overcoming these challenges and have been persevering in ensuring that there is always an outlet for the dissemination of the Chinese language and culture.

Keywords: Chinese Language, Mandarin, Culture, the University of the West Indies, Caribbean, Confucius Institute, Chinese Teachers, Students, China, Jamaica

DOI: 10.7176/JLLL/61-08

Publication date:October 31st 2019

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