(2009-2012) (For updated teaching philosophy, please contact Fang Liang)
“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.” This Chinese proverb reflects my experience as a learner of the English language. New vocabulary and grammar stays with me longer, and deepens when my teachers involve me with clearly-structured lectures, interesting cultural content and hands-on activities. Inspired by these early experiences as a student, as well as various professional developments and training, I now emphasize the following elements in my teaching to help my students acquire Chinese as a foreign language:
Clear goals, defined syllabi and dynamic lesson plans
I prepare goal-oriented syllabi to keep the courses on track, aiming for students’ progression in both oral communication and literacy. The goal-oriented syllabi are balanced and made flexible with instructional adjustment when new situations, problems and challenges arise.
Teaching culture through thematic content and independent studies
I incorporate thematic cultural content such as literature, history, architecture, common daily practices, habits and beliefs in my teaching, foment classroom discussions and encourage students to participate in cultural events. I also believe that independent study is an effective form of cultural learning. For instance, students may learn Chinese table manners and eating habits through field study in places such as Chinese restaurants or grocery stores, and may obtain more cultural information by browsing authentic Chinese websites.
Interesting and meaningful activities
I apply interesting and meaningful activities at frequent intervals. For instance, I ask students to design situational dialogues and “to be the teacher.” I group them together for games and discussions; they draw pictures, sing songs, engage in role playing, etc. These practices involve students in active learning, and by using them I can manage the classroom more effectively.
I have been using the internet and other forms of entertaining and easily accessible technologies such as Digital Storytelling, VoiceThread, Voki, Hot Potatoes and Polldaddy as powerful tools for my teaching. By applying them, I hope to attract students’ attention, awaken their curiosity, and help them to both develop and demonstrate their language ability.
Positive atmosphere and effective encouragement
In my classroom, students are recognized and respected for their strengths and contributions. This positive atmosphere makes the classroom a safe place to make language mistakes and express opinions. I always use other successful learners’ stories, as well as my own experience of learning a foreign language, as a form of encouragement to lessen the pressure and frustration of learning a new language.
Teaching is in my blood. I am currently teaching elementary and college students in the U.S. Regardless of the students’ age, they all have reminded me that the best teachers are those who can give clear direction and support, who can involve students in an active learning, and who allow the students to cultivate their own education.