GREAL Alumni Newsletter - December 2007

Volume 8, No. 1
December 2007

Dear Alums:

Things are changing fast here at GREAL! Chinese is now one of Miami's most popular languages; we offer eight sections of beginning Chinese and several new courses in Advanced Chinese Studies. All of this without letting up in our offerings of German, Russian, Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic, Korean, and Hindi. Happy Holidays from all of us!

-- Robert Di Donato, Chair

Confucius Institute Opens at Miami

Chinese language and culture are the focus of the new Confucius Institute at Miami University, funded by the Chinese Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.

Named after the fifth-century B.C. thinker and philosopher Confucius, the Institute will support Chinese at Miami by funding a new Chinese language instructor, an assistant director for the Institute, and $100,000 for the outreach activities of the Institute. The new director is Dr. Quanyu Huang, visiting assistant professor of Chinese.

The Confucius Institute, with over 100 locations worldwide including England, Thailand, and Singapore, is a public non-profit, patterned after Germany's Goethe Institute. It will support multimedia and web-based language teaching; professional training for Chinese language teachers from elementary school through university level; courses in Chinese language for special purposes, such as translation, tourism, business or finance; and partnerships between universities in China and universities abroad.

Miami's Confucius Institute will have newly equipped headquarters in McGuffey Hall starting in the spring semester of 2008.

A priority for the Institute for the coming year is initiating and supporting visiting teachers from China to local schools. In addition, Miami will begin training secondary and primary school teachers of Chinese. These future teachers will take their language and culture courses in GREAL and their teaching methods courses in the School of Education, noted Dr. Robert DiDonato, chair of GREAL. Last summer, twelve southwest Ohio high school students began learning Chinese in a state-funded workshop at Miami.

"China is a fast developing country, and students feel they can find opportunities for their careers," noted Dr. Liang Shi, Associate Professor of Chinese.

"We hope our institute can operate as an outreach program in this region," commented Institute director Dr. Huang.

Miami plans to include Chinese in the regional campus curriculum as well; Miami Hamilton will offer Chinese for the first time in fall 2008.

Alumni News from All Over

Nicole Grosklos was for last year a Fulbright exchange teacher in Bremen, Germany. Son Kai went along and attended kindergarten there. She returns this year to teaching German at Olentangy (Ohio) Orange Middle School. David Holland (1990) started out his career as a Russian teacher, now teaches world history, government and economics at Los  Angeles High School, and considers Dr. Bowie and Dr. Mitchell his "most memorable" Russian professors.

Georgia Craig (1989) began the German program at Big Walnut High School in Sunbury, Ohio, in 1990 and still teaches there. She lives in Sunbury with her husband, Michael Bowden, and daughters Catie and Caroline.

Jon Valentine is teaching German at Centennial high School in Atlanta, Georgia, has a biannual exchange with students and teachers in Essen, Germany. He and his students will visit Essen in April 2008. He completed his master's degree in applied linguistics and is considering doctoral study.


The German program has invited Hans Pleschinski, producer for Bavarian State Radio in Munich, as the Writer in Residence for spring 2008. He is the recipient of many literary awards including one from the Marshall Fund of the U.S. Mr. Pleschinski will teach a sprint course on contemporary German culture.

GREAL will sponsor a two-day workshop on the teaching and learning of non-western languages in spring 2007. Arrangements not yet finalized, but there will be guest speakers from other universities, plus mini-seminars on learning techniques for languages such as Arabic, Chinese, or Hindi.

The German Play will be Bertolt Brecht's "Die Kleinbiirgerhochzeit" (1919), modernized for the 21st century and presented in Hamilton Dining Hall. The audience will be the wedding guests ( and will have a wedding feast). Director will be Dr. Julia Bertschik, visiting from the Freie Universitat in Berlin.

The Russian program will be offering a new course on East European film and literature, taught by Dr. Vitaly Chernetsky. This is the first time that such a course has been offered at Miami