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A Teacher’s Journey: MOE “Visiting Mandarin Teaching Assistants Program” in Canberra

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Australia promotes exchanges and interactions between Taiwan and Australia. TECO, on behalf of Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Education Directorate of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to promote Chinese language in Canberra public schools.

This is an ongoing collaboration, now in its sixth term. In October 2015, then Deputy Director-General Stephen Gniel of the Education Directorate of the ACT Government renewed the MOU with the Ministry of Education in Taiwan for a further period of three years.

Under this collaborative program, up to three language assistants who are graduate students from a Taiwan who are majoring in Teaching Chinese as a Second/Foreign Language are appointed to work in Canberra public schools. The language teaching assistants help improve the students’ Mandarin language skills and support the local teachers in the classroom.

Ms Jenny Yi-Chen Hsieh, a graduate student at National Chengchi University has been working as a Mandarin teaching assistant at Kingsford Smith School since April this year, and will soon be returning to Taiwan. Here’s a testimonial from her after 5 months teaching in Canberra:

My mentor Ms Yuan Ma and the staff team at KSS are dedicated and encouraging. I genuinely enjoy living and teaching in Canberra. I am extremely grateful. From day one the school has been friendly, approachable, and accommodating towards me. I helped out designing the teaching program, setting up a Mandarin section for school open night, and facilitating cultural activities to share my cultural heritage – all of which has provided me with incredibly positive learning experiences and skills that have helped me grow as a teacher.
- Jenny Yi-Chen Hsieh
Here’s what some of the students at KSS are saying about their experience with the Mandarin teaching assistant Jenny:

Jenny is an amazing, fantastic, optimistic teacher that she makes Mandarin easy to learn and personally. I think Jenny is one of the best teachers ever.
- Year 6 Anna

Jenny does exercises and activities with us to help with our speaking and our writing and she’s always there for us if we needed help.
- Year 8 Anni

The most interesting or impressive part of Jenny’s teaching is making Mandarin learning like playing a game. Jenny would read out sentences like words of questions. We had to translate them or answer the questions in Chinese. It is really fun.
- Year 6 Brayden
Every time when we have Mandarin, she always comes up with these amazing ideas like cut-out and origami paper works. Thank you for helping me to improve my pronunciation and I find myself knowing it better now because of you. Thank you, Jenny.
-Year 7 Rameen
Taiwan is at the forefront of Chinese language education. Its rigorous Chinese language teacher training programs are recognized world-wide as producing teachers of first-class skill. We welcome more K-12 schools to participate in an exciting international exchange - the MOE Visiting Teaching Assistants Program in Canberra. If you would like more details of the program, please visit the Mandarin Blueprint webpage of the ACT Education Directorate: on