Confucius Institutes are non-profit institutions dedicated to the teaching of the Chinese language and the understanding of Chinese culture among world Chinese language learners and Chinese culture lovers, thus to help build friendly relationships with other countries. Named after Confucius (551-479 BC), a great thinker, educator and philosopher in Chinese history, whose philosophical ideas such as “Harmony is the most valuable of all things” have permeated Chinese society and influenced the Chinese way of thinking for thousands of years, Confucius Institutes demonstrate the longevity and depth of the Chinese language and culture, and embody the trend of integrating the Chinese language and culture into a global society in the 21st century.
The services Confucius Institutes offer include teaching the Chinese language, training Chinese language instructors and providing Chinese language teaching resources, conducting HSK examinations (Chinese Proficiency Test) and tests for the Certificate of Chinese Language Teachers, and organizing language and cultural exchange activities between China and other countries.
As of October 2009, as many as 523 Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms have been established in 87 countries and regions across the world, among which 282 are Confucius Institutes in 84 countries and 241 are Confucius Classrooms in 25 countries. In the US alone, there are around 80 Confucius Institutes in operation.