What is the Confucius Institute?
The Confucius Institute is a non-profit public educational organization affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. Since its founding in 2004 it has been the main educational organization tasked with the job of promoting Chinese language and culture to the world outside the Middle Kingdom. It seeks to do this through Chinese language courses, and cultural exchanges. These cultural exchanges normally focus on language music, calligraphy, and martial arts.
Due to its status as a non-profit the course and cultural exchanges offered through the institute are not only affordable but often include the chance for student participants to gain free scholarships.
These scholarships allow high school level Chinese language students, college level Chinese students, self-taught Chinese language students and Chinese language teachers and researchers to go to China for a specific period of time and have the chance to choose from more than thirty different destinations from the most well-known and “obvious”, like Beijing and Shanghai, to Harbin, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, and Qingdao, which are less known to the general public. There aren’t yet any scholarships from the Confucius Institute that go to Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Confucius Institutes’ can now be found all over the world, and through its educational programmes links and relationships are fostered through the promotion of Chinese language and culture. The aim being to promote China, its culture history and language to the world.
Scholarships are awarded for exceptional knowledge of Chinese culture by the Office of Chinese Language Council International (HANBAN) through Chinese Bridge. These scholarships are checked on this site and generally fall into four types.
1 – Brief program of 4 weeks
Financial contribution from Hanban with complete coverage for lodging and the price of the course. Minimum requirements: having completed a HSK exam and not have previously studied in China (that last requirement is decided by the individual Confucius Institutes).
2 – Six month program
A half year in China completely covered by Hanban. Minimum requirements: having reached the HSK at level 3 or greater and the HSKK of any level.
3 – Year Program
Completely covered for a year. Minimum requirements: having reached HSK level 4 and the HSKK intermediate level.
4 – Graduate course for Chinese language education
Complete coverage for two years. Minimum requirements: having reached HSK level 5 and HSKK intermediate.
A few partner universities with the Confucius Institute also make Masters available in conjunction with universities in China mainly centred on production, to put it briefly, two degrees for the price of one. Quite appealing!
The Confucius Institute organizes Chinese language exams recognized throughout the world. The most important when applying for a scholarship, are HSK and HSKK.
HSK is an acronym for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (汉语水平考试, Chinese language level exam). The HSK is subdivided into 6 levels. To pass this exam, the Chinese language student must have a strong knowledge of Chinese grammar but above all, Chinese characters. In fact each level requires the knowledge of a certain number of words:
- HSK 1 – 150 words
- HSK 2 – 300 words
- HSK 3 – 600 words
- HSK 4 – 1200 words
- HSK 5 – 2500 and more words
- HSK 6 – more than 5000 words
The HSK exam consists of various tests that require just the spoken and written language.
The HSKK, which stands for Hanyu Shuiping Kouyu Kaoshi (汉语水平口语考试, Spoken Chinese language level exam), is an exam that mostly tests the ability to read out loud and speak the Chinese language.
The HSK and HSKK are the minimum requirements to be able to apply for a scholarship in China. The exams are open to all, just go on the site
www.chinesetest.cn (or directly on the site of the closest Confucius Institute), enrol in the exam with the Confucius Institute you prefer and show up on the day of the test with the document and admission ticket you can print on the www.chinesetest.cn site.
The prices for these exams are:
HSK 1 = 20 USD, HSK 2 = 30 USD, HSK 3 = 40 USD, HSK 4 = 50 USD, HSK 5 = 60 USD, HSK 6 = 70 USD.
HSKK basic = 20 USD; HSKK intermediate = 30 USD; HSKK advanced = 40 USD.