My life as a teacher of Chinese & English as foreign languages
I started my career as a Chinese language instructor while I was pursuing a masters’ degree in Hong Kong around 2009. At that time, I volunteered for a series of Mandarin promotion events hosted by Hong Kong Confucius Institute.
After I graduated, I became a lecturer for a mainland China’s top-10 university in 2011. In addition to teaching a great variety of courses for students majoring in English and Chinese-English translation & interpreting, I also taught the courses of China Studies and Chinese as Foreign Language (CFL) to the university’s international students from over 100 countries. In addition, I also served as a guest CFL lecturer for some other universities in the city on a part-time basis.
Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, I worked in the United States during the 2014-15 academic year as a Fulbright scholar for the the New College of Florida(NCF)’s emerging Chinese Language & Literature program.
During the period of time, I also volunteered to teach Chinese to second or third generation kids of the Chinese immigrants community in the area. In 2016, I passed China’s national certification exam and received the official Certificate for Teachers of Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages (TCSOL). In 2019, I worked for an international school in Honduras, teaching students all the way from 4th grade to 7th grade.
Learning a foreign language once changed my life, and I genuinely hope more people can witness by themselves the transformative power of connecting to a wider world through languages. That’s the major reason why I have been working as a CFL instructor for so many years. I was born and raised in a very poor agricultural province in mainland China. With an old and shabby short-ware radio, I started to learn English through listening to Voice of America (VOA) when I was in high school. About ten years later, standing at the front gate of VOA’s headquarter in Washington DC during an academic conference trip there, I suddenly realized it is true that a lot of dots in life can only be connected when you look back with patience and perseverance.
My teaching style is deeply rooted in the Communicative Approach. This approach particularly appeals to me because I had considerable hands-on experiences of cross-cultural communication, and I am fully aware of its significance and contribution to the mankind. I often share some of the experiences to my students, which can always make them highly motivated. As a result, instead of merely passing the exams, my students want to learn all four skills, reading, writing, listening and speaking, so that they can also become a real multilingual communicator in the future.
I often use most authentic materials, including songs, movies, cartoons, animations, magazines, TV shows, blogs. etc., and carefully leveled books with high interest themes according to different groups of students I work with. I really like to integrate various kinds of language games, group & pair work, dialogues & conversations, theatric performances, etc. into my classes. Through these approaches, the learners get a chance to develop and practice their skills in situations that mimic, or are related to, real-life situations.
Giving students fish and teaching students how to fish are indeed equally important. However, I believe one thing is even more important: to kindle students’ thirst for fish and fishing, especially in an age when fish and fishing aren’t the only means. I recognize that students have different levels of confidence and abilities. I always draw on different approaches to help motivate my students to learn. The Affective Humanistic Approach respects the feelings of students as they learn a language, which I really like to use. I use positive reinforcement as much as possible in order to lower their ‘Affective Filter’ through games. The idea of Role-Reversal from the Comprehension Approach is also what I really like. And I design many different ways to help students demonstrate the knowledge and skills they already have.