Confucius Classrooms

CIU’s Confucius Classrooms
Account for 80% of K-12 students studying Chinese in North Carolina

Group-picture.PDjan2014More than 8,000 North Carolina K-12 students are studying Chinese  language and culture through the Center for International Understanding’s first-in-the-nation statewide network of Confucius Classrooms.  That’s about 80% of all K-12 students studying Chinese in North Carolina! We are now in Year 6 of this innovative global program that pairs a Chinese Guest Teacher with schools across the state. Check out our VIDEO

During the 2015-2016 school year, our 33 Chinese Guest Teachers provide Chinese language and culture instructions in 46 schools throughout the state. These teachers are all licensed by the State of North Carolina and are employed by the school districts in which they work. Our Chinese Guest Teachers stay with N.C. schools for up to three years to help jumpstart the study of Chinese, the most widely spoken language in the world.

For more about CIU’s Confucius Classrooms, check out these FAST FACTS.

Tremendous Growth

Chinese is the fastest growing language in North Carolina — five years ago, there were just over 300 K-12 students taking Chinese in our state and today that number is around 10,000, thanks to CIU’s Confucius Classroom efforts.

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Why Learn about China?

North Carolina has strong economic ties to China. China is our third largest trading partner and 14% of our state’s agricultural exports go to China. Businesses want to hire workers who speak more than one language, and more than one-third of the world’s population speaks Chinese. There are more than a dozen China-owned firms operating in North Carolina, providing more than 1,500 jobs.

Where are N.C. Confucius Classrooms located?

CIU’s network of Confucius Classrooms spans the state. Check out our Host Schools Map to find out which elementary, middle and high schools are involved in 2015-2016.    

CIU Confucius Classroom Highlights

mt airy studentsStudent Exchanges: Mt. Airy H.S. students and teacher-baseball-coach-city-council-member Jon Cawley traveled to Shanghai to represent the U.S. at an international student leadership conference. We’re so proud to have Mt. Airy in our network of CIU China programs!

China bridge.2013Faculty and Administrator Exchanges: Wake County educators tell us they learned so much more about Chinese history and culture by seeing and experiencing it for themselves instead of just reading about it in a textbook! A Wake County team was among a group that recently traveled with us to China to jump start school-to-school partnership activities. Check out Wake County’s VIDEO.


Chen-Wei-Dixon-ESSharing our Story Internationally: CIU Executive Director Rick Van Sant had the opportunity to share the story of CIU’s successful Confucius Classroom program with an international audience. In December 2014, he spoke at the 9th Confucius Institute Conference in China’s Fujian Province. Check out Rick’s presentation here.


15431427082_a59506479d_zNorth Carolina Media attention: Several local news outlets have followed CIU’s Confucius Classrooms. Mt. Airy News interviewed Chinese Guest Teacher Vicky Yang, who is teaching Chinese at Mt. Airy High School.  She and her school have connected with the the community well beyond the classroom.       Check out the news article here .

Funding and Program Partners
Major funding and program support is provided by Hanban, an affiliate of the Chinese Ministry of Education; and College Board. In North Carolina, the State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction provide policy leadership to expand Chinese language opportunities in schools. Participating host school districts provide a financial commitment to secure a Chinese guest teacher.

How Does it Work?
Confucius Classrooms provide students and educators with transformative international experiences. Together, North Carolina and Chinese partners learn about each other’s culture, history and educational systems and work on joint school projects in many subject areas.

Through CIU’s program, North Carolina host schools:

• Host a qualified Chinese language teacher from China for up to three years with partial salary subsidies from the program
• Send school principals and teachers to China to learn about its culture, history, and education system
• Develop a partnership with a school in China
• Engage guest teachers and local teachers in professional development opportunities, focused on improving language instruction
• Receive technical and academic support from the Center’s team of education experts

How are Schools Selected?
Participating schools have a demonstrated commitment to global education. By “clustering” the programs within select school districts, students can progress from school to school with continued opportunities to advance their proficiency in Chinese.  CIU understands the importance of school leadership and works with  schools whose superintendent and central office staff are committed to supporting and expanding authentic global learning for their students.

For More Information

Superintendents and Principals: To learn more about CIU’s Confucius Classrooms, please email Julie McGaha, Director of Education, at

North Carolina’s Top 5 trading partners in 2010 were Canada, China, Mexico, Japan and France N.C. Department of Commerce