Four Taiwanese Teachers Teaching Mandarin in Southern California Achieved a Lot Promoting Mandarin Education
Chao I-Ting, who is teaching Mandarin at Chapman University for a second year, said that she was very keen on teaching the foreign students there. One of the courses she taught this semester, Chinese 347 (Business Chinese), was a pioneer course at Chapman University. The Education Division at TECO–LA also assisted her to design the Taiwan Summer Travel Course in conjunction with Chapman University’s sister school, Feng-Chia University. Students doing this new course will travel to Taiwan next summer to learn Mandarin and learn about Taiwanese culture. Like all modern language teachers, I-Ting used role-plays, group discussion, and extensive activities, to help the students in her class improve their listening and speaking ability. She designed a Mandarin Table activity where students at the table were only permitted to speak Mandarin and learnt more about Chinese dining etiquette, and showed Chinese movies, such as like “Our Times”. I-Ting also worked with the Education Division at TECO–LA to conduct the Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language giving the students an opportunity to formally assess their Chinese proficiency.
The other three teachers, Hou Mei-Fei, Lee Ting-Hsin, and Chen Chin-Yi, teach Mandarin in Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the USA. The Education Division worked with Amity Institute for a quota of qualified Taiwanese teachers to recruit to teach Mandarin here. Amity Institute helps assign qualified teachers to different schools.
Hou Mei-Fei and Lee Ting-Hsin both teach Mandarin at Broadway Elementary School. This is one of the only six Chinese immersion schools in LAUSD comprised of most non-Chinese Americans. Students in this immersion school are required to take classes taught in Chinese for half the school day and classes taught in English for the other half of the school day. “In order to meet parents’ requirements and expectations for their children, the school is highly demanding of the teachers and their courses,” said Hou Mei-Fei. She said Americans believe in differentiated instruction and multiple assessment, respecting children’s learning right and assisting the disadvantaged ones. This semester she taught small children Chinese songs, stories, and basic Chinese using multi- media, so children can express themselves in simple Chinese. In addition, she also taught math, science, social studies, and physical education in Chinese.
Lee Ting-Hsin described what she observed at Broadway Elementary School as a “strong emphasis on independent work and differentiated instruction”. Students’ individuality is highly valued, so a teacher has to take their various backgrounds into consideration when designing a course. Like Hou Mei-Fei, Lee Ting-Hsin also taught students various subjects using Chinese. She spent a lot of time working out ways to teach difficult terms specific to those subjects using Chinese.
She also put a lot of effort into designing learning worksheets, and activities such as singing performances and writing to a pen-pal, and into frequent communication with her students’ parents. She greatly appreciated the rapport and support that the other teachers and staff gave her.
Chen Chin-Yi teaches the fifth grade in Castelar Elementary School where she teaches Mandarin language art, Mandarin language development, math, science, social studies, art, and PE. At this school, some students are from Chinese families and others are not, so they have a diverse range of Chinese proficiency. Chen Chin-Yi focuses on teaching the order of the strokes in writing, the Chinese phonetic alphabet, sentence structure, and includes various activities, and lots of speaking practice. She has designed activities related to traditional festivals and culture, to maintain students’ motivation and help them learn more words. She uses Class Dojo, where she can upload pictures and videos of students’ performance as a record for assessment, and to share, and communicate with parents about their child’s learning.
The Ministry of Education in Taiwan offers qualified teachers of Mandarin a monthly stipend of 1,200 USD, a round-trip air ticket, and a teaching material fee to teach Mandarin overseas in the US, and the local school provides them with a salary. The Education Division works with the local schools to select the most suitable applicants and Amity Institute helps them apply for a J1 visa. We look forward to continuing this collaboration in the years to come.