People - Confucius Institute at University of Canterbury - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

MLA Programme

2018 Application Form for Schools and Institutes



Mandarin Language Assistants are post graduate students from China who come to New Zealand for 1 – 3 years to teach Chinese in New Zealand schools. This year, there are 40 Mandarin Language Assistants and three Mandarin teachers employed by the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury teaching Chinese. The MLAs typically live with school families and help students to increase their Mandarin language ability and run or teach cultural activities. The programme was signalled in the Free Trade Agreement signed between China and New Zealand in 2008.  The agreement allowed for teachers to come from China to help teach Mandarin in New Zealand.
In 2018, schools are asked to pay an administration fee of $500 per MLA which can be shared among schools hosting the MLA. Other costs are funded by the Confucius Institute Headquarters.

The Role of MLAs

The role of an MLA is to teach Mandarin language effectively, provide information and insight into Chinese culture and language, model accurate pronunciation and intonation and assist the classroom teacher.

MLAs may contribute to the Chinese language programmes at participating schools by:

  • teaching ‘taster’ classes designed to interest students in learning more about Chinese culture and language
  • teaching regular Chinese language lessons at primary, intermediate or secondary level
  • assisting with the preparation of Chinese learning resoures using authentic language
  • assisting Chinese language teachers by providing opportunities for students to interact with a native speaker, stimulating genuine classroom communications
  • assist teachers in the classroom and/or make small group work not only possible but more effective
  • assist teachers to extend their own linguistic and cultural knowledge. This may include assisting a Chinese teacher in his/her language study.

Primary Schools

Paper dragonboats

Mandarin Language Assistants are available to teach at primary and intermediate schools. Usually, an MLA will teach classes introducing language and/or culture for 30 – 60 minutes once a week. Most MLAs teach a number of different classes at each school, and will often teach at two or more different schools.
Lessons are designed to be age-appropriate and fun. The hope is that children will develop an interest in learning about different cultures and languages. 


Secondary Schools

Logan with Chinese students

MLAs assist in different ways depending on the need of the school. In some schools, the MLA assists the Chinese teacher with lesson preparation and providing opportunities for students to speak with a native speaker.
In other schools, MLAs teach Chinese independently, either as a subject or as an extra-curricular activity.
MLAs are also able to aid schools to develop a Chinese language programme by assisting current teachers with learning Chinese. CIUC is also able to provide textbooks and online resources to help teachers learn Chinese.



Martial Arts and Tai Chi

CIUC has specially trained martial arts instructors. They are available to teach at schools. They can teach regular lessons, or do one-off cultural interactive demonstrations. They are also available to participate in cultural days.

Cultural Days and Festivals

Many of CIUC’s MLAs are able to demonstrate aspects of Chinese culture such as calligraphy, paper cutting and dance. We often visit schools to take part in cultural days or festivals. Schools usually contribute to the cost of materials.

Tai Chi Dumpling Making

Host School’s Responsibilities

China will fund the international travel costs and a living allowance for each MLA. In return, New Zealand is responsible for health insurance and homestay accommodation arrangements for the MLAs.

The schools should provide support for the MLA in her role teaching Chinese. Particularly, they should give her the opportunity to learn about teaching in New Zealand, including allowing her to observe classes. They should also provide feedback on her teaching. In order to facilitate this, we send an evaluation form to the schools each term and use comments given to improve our level of teaching.

Schools outside city bounds should provide transportation to and from schools. If transportation costs are greater than $25 per week, schools need to top up the difference. MLAs do not have access to cars, and generally do not drive.

We do expect lead schools to assist in finding homestay accommodation for the MLAs.

Administration Fee

For schools with an MLA based at their school or cluster of schools full time, the administration fee is $500 per year per MLA. This can be divided among the cluster of schools. If a school does not have an MLA based at it full time, the administration fee for the whole year is $200 (the MLA teaches at the school for one day a week) or $400 (the MLA teaches at the school two days a week). The number of hours an MLA teaches a day does not affect the administration fee. If the MLA teaches at a school for three or more days a week, the administration fee is $500. The administration fee covers the cost of the MLAs insurance and our administration costs.

2018 MLA Application Form for Schools and Institutes

Contact Us

For more information, or to request an application form, please contact:

CIUC Administrator
Rosa-Jane Whitcombe
Ph: 03 369 5194 or 027 552 5617

Programme Co-ordinator
Associate Professor Jing Jiang
Ph: 369 5481

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    Logie Building
    Ilam Campus
    University of Canterbury
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    University of Canterbury
    Private Bag 4800
    Christchurch 8140
    New Zealand
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