The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Chinese Department wins Global Engagement Award

Award Received at the largest convention for language teaching in the nation
Photo by Cade Fisher
Professor Kaishan Kong accepted the award on behalf of the entire program.

The Chinese Department at Eau Claire is the recipient of The American Council on foreign languages Global Engagement Award. It was received at the 2023 Convention on Nov. 17 in Chicago, Illinois. The award comes with great pride, according to professor Kaishan Kong. 

“It means great significance to the program because ACTFL is The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language is the nation’s largest and premier organization for all world language teachers, so it’s the most well-known in the field,” Kong said. 

When discussing the award, Kong said five components in particular make the award so successful. Eau Claire offers international guest speakers, research opportunities, tandem learning with students from China, global virtual exchange students and campus cultural events. 

The Dual Degree program gives international students the opportunity to study at UW-Eau Claire. This short-term program is distinct to the Chinese program, in which students spend their second and third years studying in Eau Claire and their first and last years studying in China. 

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This program brings international students into the Chinese department, allowing for impactful learning. Kong said students from China will get to work with students in the program and interact with them on a weekly basis. 

“This year, (there are) three recipients for this award. One is a program at Stanford University and one is a program at Boston University and one is our program,” Kong said.

The chinese program is a smaller program, as Kaishan Kong is the only full-time professor. With such a small program, Kong has put a lot of effort into the growth of it. 

“We didn’t have sustainable Chinese language classes, as far as I know, before my time Eau Claire offered Chinese classes, but radically not very consistent. So the university decided to hire the first full-time faculty position to build the program.”

“So I had the privilege to join. So we started from scratch, (to) offer more variety of courses for students, and so we established the certificate program about three to four years ago,” Kong said. 

With a program this young, its award signals its growth over time. Kong discussed the university is developing several new courses that will be available in the future. 

This award comes opposing a trend in the nation of students studying language dropping, according to the Chronicles of Higher Education

“Enrollments in foreign-language courses tumbled nearly 17% between the fall of 2016 and the fall of 2021,” according to The Chronicles of Higher Education. 

With languages being a declining force in higher education, this award takes on a great value to the department. It displays how the program is growing, despite the national situation. 

“Our portfolio showcased to ACTFL that not only big institutes can do impactful work. Smaller institutes like us can do really meaningful, impactful work on a daily basis,” Kong said.

Leick can be reached at l[email protected].

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