The phenomenal rise of interest in Chinese language study is making a significant mark in the transformation of the K-12 curriculum. As college programs across the country continue to expand, elementary and secondary institutions are also hiring more teachers and building new curricula to accommodate demand for Chinese from schoolchildren and their parents. Increasingly important are partnerships between language pedagogy experts at the university level and K-12 teachers that facilitate the exchange of new ideas, methods and practices.
On April 16, 2011, William & Mary will host the annual Spring workshop of the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Virginia (CLTA-VA). This workshop will bring together language teachers from Virginia schools of all levels, from kindergarten and through university.
CLTA-VA was founded in 2008 by a consortium of professors and educators in Chinese language. Since then, it has hosted workshops at the University of Virginia and George Mason University designed to help Chinese teachers of all levels improve their teaching and learn the latest techniques in this growing field. CLTA-VA is also affiliated with the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA) and contributes to, to FLAVA’s yearly workshop on foreign language pedagogy. This year, W&M is the host of the CLTA-VA workshop, and the theme is incorporating technology in the classroom. Professor Yanfang Tang and Chinese instructors Qian Su and Liping Liu are all board members or officers of CLTA-VA. This year, they are in charge of bringing the workshop to William & Mary. They expect between 50-70 teachers and instructors from all over Virginia will attend to share ideas, listen to speakers, forge new networks and consolidate old ties. “CLTA-VA is not just for the college level,” says Liu, who holds a doctorate in Education. “It’s also for middle school and primary school. Especially in the DC area, there are many Chinese teachers in the elementary levels.” She noted that the majority of attendees are instructors of elementary and secondary education. Qian Su, the lead Chinese instructor at W&M, echoed these remarks. “As college instructors, we’re doing outreach to help K-12 teachers. Local teachers really look up to what we’re doing in the college level. We see this workshop as a way to help promote Chinese language as a form of enrichment for K-12 students.”
This workshop highlights the heavy involvement of both W&M professors and instructors in contributing to the K-12 community, and in the promotion of Chinese language instruction throughout Virginia. Prof. Tang, Su and Liu are very active in developing and promoting Chinese language pedagogy. Their work also underscores the importance of thorough and dynamic Chinese language training as the key component of the Chinese major and minor programs at W&M. By helping develop Chinese language at the K-12 level, CLTA-VA hopes to funnel talented and experienced language students in Chinese major programs throughout the state, in the same way that programs in French or Spanish benefit from students with secondary education training in those languages.
As a continued part of W&M’s commitment to fostering Chinese language instruction in the community, the School of Education recently approved licensure in K-12 Chinese teaching for W&M students who seek to teach Chinese at the K-12 level. As demand for Chinese teachers in the K-12 level grows, W&M’s Chinese program and the School of Education hope to increasingly take part in fostering new ranks of Chinese teachers.