I view teaching Chinese as a foreign language my passion and lifelong career. Teaching brings constantly renewed joy because one teaching method can never fit all. Students vary and times change. As a teacher, one needs to keep learning and keep changing, adjusting, experimenting and readjusting. Teaching humbles me as the students bring surprises and challenges which constantly remind me that there remains much to be learned. And I enjoy being a life long learner.
My research focuses on the application of theories to very practical matters in teaching Chinese. The hardship of once being a novice teacher has inspired me to write articles to help those who are serious about becoming a professional teacher, but have yet to achieve that goal. I believe that many years of teaching experience does not necessarily make one a successful teacher. To know exactly how to become a successful teacher is essential, and I would like to make some contribution to our field by providing know-how. In addition to the teaching-related research, my newly developed interests include how to enhance students’ writing skills by having them analyze the dynamics in well written Chinese essays and by designing content-based courses for them at the advanced Chinese level.
As Director of the University’s program in Chinese since 2002, I have had opportunities to make innovative changes in the curriculum and in our approach to teaching Chinese as a foreign language. This includes the creation of more advanced language courses (Fourth Year Chinese and beyond), thematic courses at the Fifth Year level (Business Chinese, Media Chinese, Geopolitics and Chinese), as well as introducing student-centered practical approaches in the classroom. The program itself, with the teamwork of a group of talented, professional and innovative teachers, has expanded to serve the community with the Language Corner, the outreach program, the on-Grounds summer Chinese program in the Summer Language Institute, the STARTALK teacher training program and the collaboration with high schools and the Weekend Chinese School. Since 2002 we have had a very productive collaboration with the East China Normal University in Shanghai. As the Field Director of the UVA-in-Shanghai Chinese Language Program since 2006, I transformed this study abroad program into a platform where the students of Chinese can learn Chinese and culture in an immersion environment and the graduate students of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language can practice teaching Chinese. 2008 marked our first collaboration with the Inter-Universities Program (formally Stanford Center in Taipei and currently IUP in Tsinghua University in Beijing) allowing us to accept one of the IUP teachers to teach in our program for a year. I feel blessed and fortunate to realize many of my professional dreams at the University of Virginia!