Dr. Chan Lü, Assistant Professor of Chinese Language and Linguistics at the University of Washington’s Department of Asian Languages and Literature, was invited to join a panel of reading researchers from US institutions and participated in week-long events in Beijing on Chinese literacy in education from June 3 to June 10, 2017. Though China enjoys a long tradition of emphasizing reading and writing skills as indicators of one’s overall educational attainment, promoting literacy instruction across different disciplines, focusing on components of reading other than rote memorization and holistic comprehension, publishing more child-friendly books with appropriate difficulty levels, as well as integrating creative and critical thinking in school curricula are relatively new areas of emphasis. As a result, the panel was convened and sponsored by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States under the Thousand Talents Plan, which aims to provide support for overseas Chinese researchers and scholars to return to China and work on a short-term basis.
The panel discussed crucial topics in literacy education, including creative and critical thinking and literacy education, reading fluency assessment and training, predicting and diagnosing reading difficulty, and leveling reading materials. The panel delivered talks to graduate students and researchers in Beijing Language and Culture University and Capital Normal University; they also shared their knowledge with K-12 educators via symposiums organized by Beijing Normal University and the Beijing Bureau of Education, respectively. In addition, the panel interacted with parents and grassroots organizations that promote reading outside of school in Beijing in two separate events. Over 500 people participated in face-to-face symposiums and more than 5000 interested educators watched their talks online in real time. The panel also engaged in discussion of potential research collaboration with researchers from the Center for Chinese as a Second Language, a State key laboratory located in Beijing Language and Culture University, and researchers from the State key laboratory of cognitive neuroscience and learning, located in Beijing Normal University.