Hanban, the Office of Chinese Language Council International, a non-governmental organization under the Chinese Ministry of Education, was established to promote exchange between China and other countries and strengthen the teaching of Chinese as a foreign language. Chinese Embassies and Consulate Generals help Hanban establish cooperative relationships with education ministries, educational institutions, organizations, and associations of Chinese language teachers. These agreements often include the placement of Chinese language teaching advisors and teachers to primary and secondary schools and universities in other countries. The teacher placement program has two tiers: the Volunteer Chinese Teachers Program and the Government Sponsored Teachers Program. Started in 2004, the Volunteer Program primarily recruits recent liberal arts graduates with a bachelor’s degree or above. Volunteers are placed overseas for one year initially, with the option to stay up to three years if they receive strong evaluations from host institutions. Hanban offers volunteers training, a living allowance and international travel costs, but no salary. Local hosts are expected to provide housing, medical care and local transportation. By the end of 2012, Hanban had dispatched more than 18,000 volunteers to 101 countries.

By contrast, the Government-sponsored Teacher Program is smaller and more selective. In 2006, there were 357 posts for government-sponsored teachers, covering 92 countries. Unlike Volunteers, these teachers are required to have at least two years of classroom experience, in addition to a degree and language fluency. The placement is generally for a two year term.

Hanban’s growth has been rapid and its reach is expansive. As of 2013, it reported 429 Confucius Institutes and another 629 Confucius Classrooms in 115 countries, with more than 10,000 teachers and volunteers working in and through them.  Interest in learning Chinese is also increasing rapidly. The number of foreigners taking the Chinese proficiency test rose from 117,660 in 2005 to 3.5 million in 2012.

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Shangwu, Sun, Zhao Huanxin, and Tang Yue. "Hanban shops around for a wider choice." China Daily, 9 10, 2013.