Last month the CAIS Institute presented the Chinese Education Conference in San Francisco and I wanted to share with everyone my thoughts and impressions about it. My feeling (shared by many) was that it was a great and successful conference. As always, it was wonderful to speak in person with teachers who use our materials and hear their positive feedback as well as meet and speak with teachers who aren't familiar with our products. I had many long conversations with educators from Kentucky, Arizona, Ohio, Singapore, in addition to local teachers. It was interesting to see what teachers get excited about depending on their teaching style and the type of Chinese program at their school. For example, I spoke with a teacher in Ohio whose school is participating in the Flagship program and their program is more exploratory. She ended up being more interested in our online curriculum as a supplementary learning tool for students.
Our Developing an Engaging Chinese Curriculum with Inquiry-Based, Story-Centered Pedagogy session presented by Chinese language educational expert Li Shen went very well! About 35-40 people were in attendance. Many people wanted to hear about how to use stories in the classroom and it was wonderful to see teachers ask questions and give advice to one another about using a story-based pedagogy. We had quite a discussion going!
Another highlight of the presentation for me was all the teachers doing a reading exercise together out loud. We learned that giving students a lot of repetition and letting them chime in with key phrases and words while the story is being read aloud is critical for language learning and highly engaging for them. It really works! As a student of Mandarin myself, I was totally engrossed and couldn't wait to speak Chinese and say "my part".
I'm sure others may have found other highlights of the presentation and we would love to hear your thoughts on them!