The classroom is the best place for theories to come alive and get proven.
The sparkling smiles and enlightenment that shine on language learners’ and trained teachers’ faces equally transmit immeasurable power to advance my career.
I was drawn to the field of teaching Chinese as a foreign language in the pursuit of graduate studies in second language acquisition and teacher education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The triad duty, including multi-faceted experiences in teaching, research, and directing the Chinese language program at UIUC, cultivated my inner drive and enthusiasm about Chinese language education and teacher training. In my early stages of teaching, I found putting theory to practice the most rewarding and exciting experience. The joy and excitement in embodying innovative approaches to teaching diversified learners of Chinese has never ceased; it continues to grow and fascinate me. This leads to another developmental phase of my career that has been evolved, enriched, and transcended to my lifelong devotion to preparing teachers for becoming global professionals with confidence and competitiveness in the Chinese language teaching community.
While teaching at the University of Virginia, I directed the UVa Shanghai study abroad program, founded the UVa Chinese outreach program, and served as the director and key trainer of the Virginia STARTALK Chinese Teacher Academy at the University of Virginia since 2008. I have also been involved in a wide spectrum of national and international initiatives, including serving as a member of the AP Higher Education Advisory Committee at College Board, a College Board consultant in AP Chinese and curriculum advisor for AP Chinese Audit, an OPI certified tester in Mandarin Chinese, and a K-12 Chinese language program evaluator and foreign language program reviewer for ACTFL/NCATE, to name a few.
Working with numerous prospective and current K-16 teachers unveils the essence of reciprocal learning. Not only had I frequently given talks and taught in workshops and summer institutes in AP Chinese, but I have also taught graduate level courses in Chinese language pedagogy at different institutions in the US, China, and Taiwan through different collaborative projects and professional development programs. Many of my students are now teaching at K-12 schools or post-secondary institutions in the US or abroad. I am blessed to be empowered to walk into the path of self-fulfillment with them and rejoice with their countless aha moments. The experiences that I have gained in methods courses and training programs continue to educate and reshape me to become a more effective teacher, mentor, trainer, researcher, and far beyond that, a well-rounded human being that constantly reflects upon the utter uniqueness of helping and sharing with good cheers and wisdom.
We learn the most from what we give, not what we take. I have opportunities to work with many dedicated educators to launch the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Virginia (CLTA-VA) and feel honored to serve as the founder and president of the CLTA-VA, a Board member of the Chinese Language Teachers Association (CLTA) and the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA). Serving national professional organizations has widened my scope and driven me to further appreciate the true value in volunteerism and professionalism, qualities that excellent and strong leaders all have in common. I look forward to embarking on more national and international initiatives in the foreseeable future.