Chinese Whispers is a collaborative project involving academics from two disciplines (Music and Languages), diverse cultural backgrounds and international institutions (Tianjin Normal University and the Confucius Institute), various professions (e.g. a Beijing Choir Master, composers and music conductors, teacher trainers, technicians) and different stages of the educational journey (students, trainee and qualified teachers, lecturers and professors).
The project required adapting and translating music and texts, sharing and adjusting disciplinary complexities to meet the final aim: a public performance in Chinese. At times the novice became the expert and vice versa.
Its aims are:
- To develop an understanding of language learning through music
- To refine a pedagogic approach focused on mindful listening
- To sharpen transferable skills
- To embed internationalisation within a music curriculum
- To explore ways to reach out beyond disciplinary boundaries
- To increase student employability.
Impact of work
Stressing happy active learning, the first interdisciplinary production of the project—choir performance—achieved dissemination and impact results well beyond the original expectations. The success of the choir performance was broadcast on Chinese TV networks and generated interest in an international exchange.
Students were partners in the performance’s production, and the establishment and management of the language and music learning process. Explicit work on skills such as audience engagement, intercultural sensitivity, self-discipline, team membership, clarity of objectives, visualisation of outcome, quality assurance was integral to the process. A music student became the conductor of one of the two performances in a spirit of true partnership with the original conductor. The language teaching staff included trained teachers, student volunteers and PGCE international student.
Plans for the future
The Chinese Whispers team (Marina Mozzon-McPherson, Jianmei Liu, Simon Desbruslais, Mark Slater, Lee Tsang, Lin Feng) now intend to extend and deepen their impact and transfer their approach to other disciplines (e.g. drama; business; sciences) and sectors (e.g. schools and colleges). Our dissemination activities will involve, inter alia, the development of a series of TED-style lectures, YouTube performances and webinars focused on: Students as partners; Transformative pedagogies; Internationalisation of the curriculum; Creating and sustaining interdisciplinary partnerships. Finally, a transnational module will be developed.
University of Hull