ACTFL Convention and World Languages Expo
The 2023 National Association for Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Convention and World Languages Expo took place in Chicago, U.S. on November 17-19. It is the U.S.’ largest, most important event for world language educators, and the Taiwan delegation returned in full force to show the world that Taiwan is the premier destination for studying Mandarin.
The number of Americans choosing to study Mandarin in Taiwan has increased significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. accounts for more than 50% of students from the Americas in Taiwan, participating in semester exchanges, study programs, or self-study, while 70% come to study Mandarin.
The Taiwan Pavilion
The Taiwan Pavilion was coordinated by the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan (FICHET), led by Executive Director Yang Yun-hua. The delegation's objectives were to spread the word about Taiwan's Mandarin education resources, including the "MOE Huayu (Mandarin) Enrichment Scholarship," "MOE Taiwan Scholarship," and "Taiwan Huayu BEST Program," with the concepts of 'Learning Mandarin in Taiwan' and 'Promoting Mandarin to the World.'
A total of 18 institutions, including 14 colleges and universities, three government ministries, and one manufacturer, represented Taiwan to show its high-quality Mandarin programs. The Taiwan black bear and Sika deer are the symbols of diverse cultural and Mandarin language values in Taiwan.
In addition, “Happy Hour” events were held on the three days of the exhibition. In the spirit of “learning by doing” and “learning by playing,” attendees could experience lively, hand-made art demonstrations in a Mandarin environment. These included activities such as Chinese calligraphy writing & painting, tea tasting, children's nostalgic folk games, traditional opera mask painting, Indigenous people’s bracelet weaving, and jingling rhyme (Chinese Shulaibao) challenges.
Representatives of Taiwan and the U.S. sign an agreement to further strengthen education partnerships on Saturday. (FICHET photo)
Taiwan Pavilion also hosted three workshops for participants to gain insights into Taiwan’s Mandarin curriculum and pedagogy. The workshops showcased Taiwan’s Mandarin digital textbooks, educational technology, curriculum platform from Taiwan’s Ministry of Education (MOE), and the “Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language (TOCFL).”
The ACTFL Taiwan Pavilion, with its distinctive branding, attracted participating schools, educators, and teachers to seek opportunities for Mandarin learning and collaboration. In addition, a signature event, Taiwan Night Networking Dinner, was held at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place on the evening of November 17th.
Director General of the Taipei Representative Office in Chicago Lei Yen-feng gave a welcome speech for the evening event and greeted guests from partner institutions. The Taiwan Night set up a warm and interactive atmosphere for the participating institutions and 100 guests and higher education partners, demonstrating Taiwan's hospitality and strengthening mutual understanding and good partnership between Taiwan and the U.S.
To advance Mandarin language education in the U.S., FICHET signed an MOU with the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL) and the National Association of District Supervisors for Language (NADSFL). The MOU can create opportunities for long-term exchange and cooperation with international language education policy makers.