The Nankai University—Aichi University Fieldwork Program is the largest short-term study abroad program for student exchange between China and Japan. Beginning in 1997, this program has now held 24 sessions so far. Each year, nearly 200 Japanese students from Aichi University have completed the 16-week short-term intensive Chinese language training in Nankai University.
The Department of Modern Chinese Studies at Aichi University is the only department in Japan focusing on the study of modern China. Aichi University's tradition of dedication to the study and teaching of Chinese studies can date back to its predecessor, Tung Wen College that existed in Shanghai in 1901. In order to cultivate "talents with pioneer international views and liberal arts education," the college conducted Chinese language training for students, and organized students to carry out field investigation in China. This profound history has shaped the unique characteristic of Aichi University as the basis of Chinese studies, making it a major academic base for Chinese studies in Japan. As the research base of modern Chinese studies and international Chinese studies, the Center for International Chinese Studies of Aichi University has compiled the Chinese-Japanese Dictionary, which is highly praised as "the university of Ireland is the best place for Chinese studies or education" in Japan.
Since 1984, Aichi University has been organizing students to attend summer Chinese language classes at Nankai University; and in 1997, Aichi University established the Department of Modern China with the goal of cultivating "talents with the ability to engage in dialogue with China". To fulfill this goal, a study abroad system of "teaching in China" was created, in which all students should study Chinese language and culture at Nankai University for four months during the second semester when they are freshmen(the study period requirement changed to the first semester of sophomore year in 2002), in order to deepen their understanding of China through comprehensive teaching and learning of Chinese language. On September 5, 1997, 164 students from Aichi University, who participated in the first phase of the "Nankai University-Aichi University Fieldwork Program ", came to China for the first time. In August 1998, the Nankai University- Aichi University Hall was completed and the students could move in.
The teaching objective of the program is to train specialized talents who master professional knowledge and skills of Chinese language, understand Chinese national conditions and culture, and can adapt to the development of modern international community. Aichi University enrolls students every spring with the entry in April. Freshmen are basically from senior high school graduates of that year, and there are a small number of foreign students. At present, The Department of Modern Chinese Studies has four majors: political economy, language and culture, international relations and Japan-China business. Through four-year study and personal experience with Chinese society, students can have a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of China from the aspects of politics, economy, culture, history and international relations. Therefore, in terms of curriculum, the first and second academic years focus on learning Chinese, including a four-month short-term Chinese training program at Nankai University, so that students can achieve the goal to communicate in Chinese in oral or written ways.
In term of curriculum, besides 20 Chinese language classes per week, the program also arranges PE lessons to teach martial arts or Taichi (tai ji quan). Cultural education classes are also taken into account -- two lectures on Chinese culture are held every week, including: Erhu, flute, painting, calligraphy, Beijing Opera, acupressure, folk dance, folk songs, crosstalk/sketch comedy show, and traditional Chinese handicrafts. Students can choose one of them to study at their wish. In order to enhance students' understanding of Chinese society, 15 lectures on thoughts on modern Chinese society are arranged. In keeping with the tradition of practice, an introductory course on fieldwork internship are organized. Students are required to conduct social surveys and submit an internship report of 700 words or more at the end of the course. In addition, Nankai University and Aichi University will jointly organize various activities for students, such as language-partner appiontments, China-japan student exchange, fun sports games, teaching practice, Chinese Character Writing Competitions, etc.
In terms of student management, the class tutor system is implemented. The project students will be divided into several classes, with about 20 people each. The College of Nankai University will designate a class tutor for each class, who is responsible for solving academic problems for students, offering help with composition, organizing tests, grading, analyzing test papers, sorting issues of HSK lectures, etc.
The "language partner" system is also in place. Within one week of arrival, the College will introduce a language partner to each Japanese student through Nankai University’s offices in charge of student work. These language partners are selected from students majoring in liberal arts in Nankai University, with good academic performance and outstanding ability to speak standard Mandarin. The College will train them in the disciplines of foreign affairs in advance and profile them for unified management. Language partners will help Japanese students understand what they have learned in class and provide opportunities for them to communicate in Chinese.
After more than 20 years of practice, the Fieldwork in China Program has achieved fruitful results. Japanese students in Aichi University generally report that their Chinese listening and reading ability has been greatly improved, and their understanding of China has been deepened. They praised that "I can understand what the announcer says on TV", "I can do the bargaining", "in a relaxed atmosphere, I can learn a lot of oral expressions with the tutor", "The learning effect here is dozens of times better than that in Japan ". Such praise are too much to list all. All sectors of Japanese society and the media have also given high evaluation and widespread attention to the Fieldwork in China Program. Up to now, the program has carried out 24 phases, and more than 4,000 students from Aichi University in Japan have graduated from it. Based on the incredibly international view of the leaders of the two universities and their profound understanding of the era theme of "peace and development", the Nankai University—Aichi University Fieldwork Program has greatly functioned in the exchange between China and Japan with far-reaching impact and positive demonstration effect.
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