Summer Schools 2024: Interview with Andy Barker

We sat down with the Director of the Sheffield Confucius Institute to discuss what makes this year's summer school so special.

Summer School

The following is an interview with our very own Director, Andy Barker, who told us more about his inspiration for this year's summer school courses, delivered in-person and online, taking place 10th June - 18th July 2024. 
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Andy workshop
SCI Director, Andy Barker, delivering a workshop

1. What can people expect from this year’s summer courses? 

We are very pleased to share that we have redrawn our course offering for this year’s Mandarin Chinese Summer School for Adults in a unique and exclusive way. We wanted to provide learners, both in Sheffield and around the country with a completely fresh approach to Chinese language and culture. 

Regular language courses are important and provide valuable learning opportunities but over the summer there is an extra chance to explore in different and exciting ways. 

For this we have selected four key themes that learners will be able to engage with, Sheffield Chinese, Business Chinese, Calligraphy and Tourism Chinese. 

Sheffield Chinese

2. What inspired the creation of the Sheffield Chinese course, and how does it address the connection between the Chinese language and Sheffield’s local culture?

The concept of Sheffield Chinese was born out of my personal experiences having lived in many cities, both in the UK and abroad. Sheffield is a vibrant city with a long-standing and important Chinese community. I wanted to create a course that put Sheffield at the forefront as a home to the highly respected University of Sheffield in addition to world renowned industry and business.  

3. How does the Sheffield Chinese course help students understand local perceptions and the linguistic nuances that define Sheffield’s identity in Chinese?

Like all communities a sense of community language evolves, and localised phrases become normalised and understood to these groups. The Sheffield Chinese course has researched localised Chinese language within Sheffield and will guide learners through its evolution.

Business Chinese

4. What are the main objectives of the Business Chinese course, and how does it prepare professionals to succeed in Chinese-speaking markets?

The Business Chinese course is a great way for learners to enhance their understanding of both business language and the very culture and etiquette of business in and with China. We know that in a short course learners will not become fluent Chinese speakers but our strength lies in recognising this and identifying what practical skills people gain the most from, in addition to an increased awareness of the language.

5. Could you explain how cultural insights integrated into the Business Chinese course enhance a professional’s ability to navigate international business environments?

I think we all know that today’s world is a globalised environment and that business partners that function in an international way will enjoy greater reward. Our course will include guidance on these insights to help to prepare and support individuals on this journey.


6. What fundamental skills does the Calligraphy course aim to teach, and why is calligraphy significant to understanding Chinese culture?

Calligraphy is a focused and practised skill that requires patience and understanding to succeed in. In many ways this skill helps to define several key aspects of Chinese culture. The concept of time itself being required to master this art fits perfectly when considering how time is perceived in China. There is profound serenity and tranquillity in the practice of this art, and its delivery in our classes creates a distinctly therapeutic and community focused atmosphere. 

Tourism Chinese

7. What are the key components of the Tourism Chinese course, and how does it enhance a traveller’s experience in Chinese-speaking regions?

The Tourism Chinese course will really help to provide essential language and confidence in addition to some tips for the explorer. If you are either new to the idea of visiting China or if you have been many times before this course will still be able to provide you with keen travel tips and ideas. 

8. Could you share how learning key phrases and cultural etiquette in the Tourism Chinese course can transform a tourist’s visit into a more authentic and engaging experience?

I think that all learners have either experienced directly or have heard from others how having a few phrases when travelling can really make a difference. I know from personal experience that having a phrase in the destination language can really bring a smile to local faces and completely enhance the experience of the moment. The mutual respect gained from at least trying to speak is of great value and helps to create deeper memories of a time abroad. 

Sino club banner

We couldn't be more excited for this year’s summer school because we’ve put our all into creating a novel and innovative direction for each of our courses. Above all however,  we can’t wait to meet our future learners in June and at all future events at the Sheffield Confucius Institute.

Until then, 再见 and see you soon!

Andy Barker

Andy Barker has over 25 years leadership experience across both public and private sector organisations, educational and commercial institutions. He has experience in education in Vietnam, Malaysia (Sabah and Penang), New Zealand and the UK. He has published articles on a range of subjects including online pedagogy and reflective practice in addition to presenting at several international conferences on subjects such as course design and observation strategies. He has a passion for culture and is keen to continue to learn about the world. 

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