Although my education and career background have focused on business (CPA, MBA), for many years now language teaching has been a driving force in my experience.
My husband’s work led us to live for almost 10 years in Hong Kong, 1993-2002 (December). We made many friends there and came to appreciate deeply the Chinese culture. In a desire to give back to our many dear friends (in low and high places) and to the Hong Kong community which had given us so much, I felt my best contribution would be to provide English lessons to lower income class children. The language learning approach in Hong Kong prepares children well in reading and writing, but listening and speaking skills are deficient, especially for children whose parents cannot afford private lessons with a native English speaker. For this reason, a friend of mine, Ms. June Kwan and I founded a non-profit organization, Bridge Across Nations, whose purpose was to provide low cost courses to children in Hong Kong’s Western District. Classes were held in the Caritas Center for a couple of years, until such time as we returned to the United States.
The name “Bridge Across Nations” was inspired by our beautiful Dalmatian dog, BanBan, who provided our first logo.
I was also employed at Berlitz Language School in Hong Kong, where emphasis is placed on the use of target language only as the best learning method. I also enjoyed teaching several families in private lessons.
To complement these efforts, the Cambridge English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) certificate course was taken while we lived for a short time (1999-2000) in Sydney, Australia. This intensive month-long course taught me how to prepare focused, purposeful lessons for English learners in listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, again with emphasis on use of target language as much as practicable.
Upon return to Hong Kong in 2000, I continued the certificate in Mandarin from the Chinese Language Center at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, graduating in August 2002.
In the United States, it came to me to apply the teaching principles learned at the CELTA course to teaching elementary Mandarin to American school children. These experiences have been interesting and challenging!
For many years, I have taught Mandarin at the Incline Village, NV Middle School & High School as a volunteer. I also taught introductory Mandarin at the Williams Ranch School in Penn Valley, CA in 2009, also as a volunteer (letter attached). Substitute teaching licenses are held in the states of California and Nevada (now expired).
In addition, on Saturday mornings from Spring 2009- to 2012, several families of adoptive Chinese children (mainly kindergarden and pre-school) came together for a class in Mandarin which was my pleasure to lead. It has been a joy developing learning materials, songs, and hands-on play activities for these youngsters and their parents. Progress has been gratifying!
An offshoot of these classes has been the establishment of “Xiao Mao” Asian Culture Club in Grass Valley, CA in 2011 to present. “Xiao Mao” means “Little Cats”, and is organized under the auspices of the “Community Asian Theater of the Sierras” (CATS). “Xiao Mao” began culture and language classes in 2012. It was my privilege to teach Mandarin with this group the Spring & Summer 2012 sessions. See website: www.XiaoMaoClub.org.
An “ELearning Café” has been established in Incline Village, NV. This is a community center where young & old alike can gather for computer training, public school enhancement, lectures, and language learning. It has been my pleasure to conduct Mandarin lessons here for private lessons and small groups from 2011 to the present. See website: www.ELearningCafes.org.
Living in relatively rural communities (Incline Village, NV and Grass Valley, NV),we have found increasing interest in Mandarin language learning. We have found that many parents of school age children have business in China and travel frequently to China in this capacity. So the need is there, and we are working toward making a stronger connection with these families.
It is a great joy to provide a “Bridge Across Nations” to my community.