Research into China, Language Acquisition and Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language


China Seminars 中国讲座

The CI regularly invites academics and experts worldwide to give talks at 'China Seminars Series', about latest research in language studies, language teaching, international relationships and economics, etc.

NewProfessor Li Cao at Tsinghua University. The talk is centered around William Empson, literary critic and poet, who encountered with the Chinese academy in the late 1930s and later became head of the English Department at the University of Sheffield (in 1954-1972).

William Empson: from Xinan Lianda to the Sheffield Inaugural Speech
4:00-5:00pm, Tuesday 16 July
Lecture Theatre 8, the Diamond
(32 Leavygreave Rd, Sheffield S3 7RD)

All welcome and no need to book in advance.

The Chinese engagement with English literary criticism and modernist poetry can be traced back to the earlier decades of the 20th century when I. A. Richards followed by William Empson, came to China from England to teach English literature and criticism at Tsinghua, Beida (Peking University) and Xinan Lianda (the National Southwest Associated Universities). Their interpersonal and productive contact with a group of Chinese scholars who later on became the founding fathers of foreign literature studies in China had created a legendary chapter in the historical narrative of foreign literature teaching and research as a discipline of humanities in the Chinese university. Obsolete as their names may have become amid today’s hubble-bubble of postmodern scenario and discourse, the intellectual contact itself and its visible as well as invisible impact deserve deeper reflection and analysis if we wish to engage ourselves with a larger picture of the transcultural communication between UK and China since the beginning of the last century. This talk focuses on Empson’s encounter with the Chinese academy in the late 1930s in Xinan Liangda and the implication it has for today’s silk road of knowledge in an increasingly interdependent world where transcultural learning and communication between people of different linguistic and cultural heritages are taking on new forms and looks.

About the Speaker
Professor Li CAO received her Ph. D from the University of Cambridge. She is professor of English and Comparative Literature,director of the Centre for the Studies of European and American Literatures and vice-dean of Xinya College at Tsinghua University. She also serves as vice-president of the International Federation for Modern Languages and Literatures, UNESCO (FILLM) and vice-chair of the Chinese Association for English Literature. She is the author and editor of a number of books including The Eternal Utopia: Guided Readings of the Great Works of Western Literature, A Short Introduction to Gayatri Spivak, The Idea of the University and the Humanistic Spirit, and Conflicts and Dreams of Civilizations, etc. Forthcoming books include Cambridge Critics: Their Influence and Significance in China, Within the Archive: Cultural Memory and Historical Representation, What Happens to Liberal Education in China.

Research into Language Acquisition 继承语语言习得

Working with the Childhood Bilingualism Research Centre of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, SCI conducted research on the acquisition of Mandarin Chinese by heritage Mandarin and Cantonese speakers.

The project filled the gap for heritage language acquisition by school-age children and its research results have been publicised at various training courses and academic conferences. It has also led to further collaboration between the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the university of Sheffield.

Play Group for 6 months - 3 year-olds 婴幼儿中文

The CI, together with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, will launch a bilingual infant playgroup (0-3 years old), carry out a research in language acquisition in the early years, and develop the curriculum and teaching materials.

Chinese Language Acquisition Research Centre 汉语语言习得研究中心

The centre investigates the acquisition of Chinese by various types of learners to enhance understanding and provide references for language teachers, policy makers, textbook designers etc.

The Chinese Language Acquisition Centre was established and collaborations were built with:

Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research (CLLEAR), Southampton University;

College of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, Peking University; 北京大学对外汉语教育学院

Child Bilingualism Research Centre (CBRC), Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK); 香港中文大学 儿童双语研究中心

China Language Industry Research Institute, Capital Normal University; 首都师范大学 中国语言产业研究院;

Foreign Language College, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. 电子科技大学 外国语研究中心。

For more information, contact: