Confucius Institute at Veliko Tarnovo University in 2023
The Confucius Institute at University of Veliko Tarnovo (hereinafter “CIUVT”) was established on October 10th, 2012. Its Chinese partners are the Chinese International Education Foundation (hereinafter “CIEF”), the Center for Language Education and Cooperation of the Chinese Ministry of Education (hereinafter “CLEC”) and China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) (hereinafter “CUG”). Confucius Institute's efforts are aimed at improving the quality of Chinese language teaching, promoting intercultural exchanges, training and staff development, academic activities, etc.
I. Chinese Language Teaching
1. Educational institutions and enrolled students
In 2023, with the support of CLEC and the Chinese Embassy in Bulgaria, CI at UVT introduced Chinese language training in 4 new cities in Bulgaria. The Chinese language training in Svishtov Municipality, which was interrupted due to the COVID-19 epidemic, was resumed. Currently, the CI conducts Chinese language and culture training in nearly 60 educational institutions in 17 municipalities, including Veliko Tarnovo, Svishtov, Ruse, Tutrakan, Isperih, Popovo, Targovishte, Shumen, Varna, Burgas, Yambol, Sliven, Haskovo, Pernik, Sofia, Vratsa and Chelopech. Confucius classrooms have been established and have been functioning for 9 years in two of the educational institutions - "Vasil Levski" High School for Eastern Languages and Culture Teaching and First Primary School "Hristo Botev" in Targovishte. In the 2022 - 2023 academic year, more than 2000 students are enrolled in the various courses offered by CI.
2. Teaching staff and employees
In the 2023 - 2024 academic year, the total number of teaching and administrative staff of the CI at the UVT is 33: 1 Bulgarian director, 1 Chinese director, 4 staff members, 4 foreign teachers and 11 volunteers under the Chinese government program, 1 local volunteer and 12 local teachers.
3. Educational programmes
CI at UVT conducts courses and classes in Chinese language and culture at various levels: Chinese language for children, Chinese language for adults, business Chinese, preparatory courses for HSK/HSKK, Kung Fu for children, Tai Chi and Qigong practices.
In the language courses, in order to meet their individual needs, CI teachers use modern teaching materials such as Happy Chinese, Chinese Paradise, Easy Chinese Learning, Learn Chinese with Me, Great Wall Chinese, Road to Success, HSK Standard Course, etc. The library of the Institute is updated annually with new academic titles from China, as well as with translated literature in Bulgarian. Chinese teachers/volunteers from the CI also conduct classes with the students of the various undergraduate Chinese language programs at the Faculty of Modern Languages of UVT.
4. Education quality
The Confucius Institute at UVT attaches great importance to the quality of teaching and learning. Directors and teachers make daily efforts to improve the Chinese language proficiency level and to promote Chinese culture among students. In 2022, CI of UVT organized a total of 5 online exams in which 84 people took the HSK exam and 39 people took the HSKK exam. In the first half of 2023, the CI held 2 online exams, in which a total of over 60 people participated.
It is important to note that the students from the educational institutions cooperating with the CI at UVT are always very enthusiastic to participate in the Chinese Language Bridge Competition and perform excellently. In 2022 and 2023, UVT students Yoana Borisova and Betizhe Akova won the first places in the competition for students - National Round Bulgaria, and CLEC respectively awarded them a one-year scholarship to study in China. In August and September 2023 in Guangxi, China, the finals of the 22nd Chinese Language Bridge Competition for foreign students were held, and the participant from VTU - Betizhe Akova, after passing various tests and beating many of her rivals, won the third prize at the world finals.
II. Cultural events and creating own brands
In 2023, the team of Confucius Institute at UVT organized various cultural events such as performances, exhibitions, competitions, Chinese handicraft workshops, and participated in a number of large-scale local cultural festivals. Some of them are: celebration of the anniversary of the Confucius Institute at the UVT, Chinese Language Day at the United Nations, Celebration of East Asian Cultures Festival at the UVT, National Competition on: "Bulgaria and China - Ancient and Unique Civilizations", the National Round of the International Chinese Language Competition "Chinese Bridge", Translation Contest from Chinese into Bulgarian and vice versa in the name of Petko Hinov, "Sing with me in Chinese" competition in the Confucius Classroom at "Vasil Levski" High School - Ruse, Chinese Cinema Week and Chinese Cuisine Day in Targovishte, Film Festival in Burgas, Dragon Boat Festival in Sofia, Mid-Autumn Lantern Hand Painting Competition and Exhibition at the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, Kukerlandia International Masquerade Festival in Yambol, Rose Festival in Kazanlak, Muses International Youth Arts Festival in Sozopol, etc.
III. Qualification of teaching staff
The Confucius Institute at the UVT attaches great importance to the qualification of the teaching staff. Each year, the Institute's program includes at least two meetings for Chinese teachers/volunteers, both with departing Chinese teachers/volunteers and with new teachers online, coming from China. This creates a good platform for comm vice to each other about life in Bulgaria. Newly-arrived Chinese teachers/volunteers are familiarized with the CI regulations and receive necessary guidance for their work in Bulgaria to help them adapt more quickly to their future role as teachers.
In 2017, the Rector of UVT signed an agreement with Beijing Language University to jointly establish the Centre for Training and Qualification of Chinese Language Teachers - Bulgaria. The Centre is managed by the Confucius Institute of the UVT and has one staff member. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CI was able to hold two Chinese language teacher training sessions with local teachers from all over Bulgaria, Chinese teachers and volunteers. The main lecturers in the qualification courses are experienced local Chinese and Bulgarian teachers and experts from China. The content of the training is closely related to the way Chinese is taught in Bulgaria and focuses on common classroom situations. It is important for the improvement of teachers and the successful implementation of Chinese education. In the post-pandemic period, the Centre for Chinese Teacher Training in Bulgaria will resume its activities.
The Confucius Institute takes every opportunity where teachers and volunteers can participate in various courses organized by the Chinese side to hear lectures from experts and scholars, actively exchange Chinese language teaching experiences with outside teachers, and strive to enhance their teaching competence and ability to organize and conduct cultural events.
IV. Scientific research and achievements
In 2014, the CI at UVT published the first volume of articles collected from the scientific conference on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and China. Since then, a scientific journal entitled "Diplomatic, Economic and Cultural Relations between China and the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe" has been published annually, including the proceedings of the international scientific conference on the same topic. Currently the journal is included in the National Reference List of Bulgaria, CEEOL, ROAD, Google Scholar, it is referenced and indexed in other international databases such as ERIH PLUS, ResearchBib, GeneralImpactFactor, CiteFactor, DRJI, ESJI, etc. In 2023, the latest volume of the journal was published.
V. Honours and Awards
In mid-May 2023, the Confucius Institute in Sofia, in cooperation with the Confucius Institute at UVT, successfully held the annual Chinese Bridge Competition. The students of the Confucius Institute at UVT showed great enthusiasm and each group performed extremely well in the competition. In the finals of the national round of the 22nd Chinese language competition for foreign students "Chinese Bridge" Bethizhe Akova, a first year student of Applied Linguistics with Chinese at UVT, took the first place. The third year student Tanya Stankova won the third prize and the second year student Kristiyana Doneva was awarded for the best talent. Bethizhe Akova successfully applied for a one-year scholarship for specialization in China and was accepted to the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan).
In the competition for the translation of the name of Petko Hinov, the national competition on "Bulgaria and China - Ancient and Unique Civilizations" and the competition for hand-painted lanterns to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, the students of the Confucius Institute at UVT showed their great abilities and received different kinds of prizes. The Chinese volunteer Lai Jinting managed to compete with the other participants in the Petko Hinov Translation Contest and won the first prize for translation of poetry and prose in the category of translation from Bulgarian to Chinese.
VI. External cooperation and public recognition
Since its establishment in 2012, the Confucius Institute at UVT has maintained regular contacts with the units at the University of Veliko Tarnovo and the Chinese University of Geosciences (Wuhan) for more than 10 years. With the support of the two partner universities, the work of the Confucius Institute runs smoothly.
The Confucius Institute at UVT fits in well with the Bulgarian community not only in Veliko Tarnovo but also in many other places. It maintains harmonious relations with all the units of the University of Veliko Tarnovo and successfully carries out long-term fruitful cooperation with more than 15 municipalities, as well as with a number of schools, kindergartens, youth centres, friendship associations, etc. in different cities.
In 2023, the activities of the Confucius Institute at UVT received more than 300 media coverage from Chinese and Bulgarian media such as Xinhua News Agency, China Government Network, China State Council News, People's Daily Online, Global Times, Phoenix News, China Today newspaper, Bulgarian National Television, Bulgarian National Radio, etc., as well as from the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) and the Embassy of the PRC in Bulgaria on their official websites.