Confucius Institute


Programming at the USM Confucius Institute (CI) focuses on Chinese language learning and teacher education; Chinese cultural festivals and events; building business, industry, and non-profit awareness of China, Chinese language, and culture; and support for scholarship and research on contemporary China.

Language Learning and Teacher Education

Chinese ranks third among K-12 English Language Learners in Maine, with more than 500 K-12 students in Maine whose first language is Mandarin Chinese, and as more and more Maine communities recruit Chinese students, this population is growing. China’s place in today’s global world demands that the next generation of southern Maine students develop a greater understanding of Chinese culture and have the opportunity to learn the language. To meet this demand, the USM School of Education and Human Development is collaborating with the USM Confucius Institute to offer both a Chinese teacher education program and a Chinese language program for elementary, middle, and secondary students.

Education and Training for Chinese Teachers

USMCI offers Mandarin Chinese classes and teacher training for all teachers and aspiring teachers who are interested in becoming proficient in Chinese, improving their current proficiency, and/or receiving guidance in the teaching of Chinese. 

Chinese Language Program for K-12 Students

The Chinese Language Program for K-12 students supports Chinese language instruction in the Southern Maine Partnership, which is a collaboration between 36 school districts and USM. The Confu­cius Institute can help schools apply for visiting teachers from China or for a Confucius Classroom designation, or support the program with teaching and cultural materials. School leaders interested in receiving Confucius Institute support for Chinese language programming in their school or within their district should send their specific request to the Institute's mailbox at

High school students studying Chinese are also eligible for the Chinese Bridge Summer Camp program.

Undergraduate Chinese Language Courses

The USM Confucius Institute currently offers two levels of Chinese language classes to USM undergraduate students. These courses develop students’ basic Mandarin skills in speaking, listening, reading, and writing, with more focus on speaking and listening. Starting with Pinyin, students will gradually build up their communicative competency in Mandarin Chinese. Interested students may enroll in these courses through Mainestreet.

Course Name Course Number
Beginning Chinese I CHI 101
Beginning Chinese II CHI 102                    

 USM students who have studied Chinese with the Confucius Institute are eligible for one summer trip to China to enhance their learning experience. Click here for more information.

Senior Education on Chinese Language and Culture

The USM Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and the Maine Senior College Network, headquartered at OLLI’s National Resource Center at USM, offer Chinese language and cultural courses through their respective programming functions. The USM OLLI offers a combination of eight-week courses, three-week mini-courses, and one-day or half-day workshops in Mandarin throughout the year, and the Maine Senior College Network  offers one-day or half-day workshops on Chinese cultural topics at USM or at one of the Maine Senior College sites around the state. Topics include art, music, Chinese gardening and landscape design, calligraphy, Feng Shui, and Chinese cooking.

Chinese Cultural Festivals and Events

The USMCI supports and sponsors regular Chinese cultural festivals, events, lectures, and performances as well as activities and special collaborative endeavors with the City of Portland, the Portland Regional Chamber, the Chinese and American Friendship Association of Maine, and the World Affairs Council of Maine. In the future, the CI may venture beyond these initial programs to offer such imaginative cultural programs as showcasing a Chinese chef in the internationally-renowned Portland Harvest on the Harbor event, and sponsoring a Chinese film festival to showcase the emerging world-class films from China.

Executive Programming on Chinese Language and Culture

The USM CI organizes and supports executive training, programs, seminars, and symposia to build awareness and understanding of contemporary China for business, industry, and non-profit executives. These programs are developed in partnership with the Portland Regional Chamber, the Maine International Trade Center, USM School of Business, and the University of Maine School of Law.

Research in Chinese Studies

The USM CI supports conferences and collaborative research in Chinese studies among faculty members of Maine colleges and universities.