Visiting Chinese Teachers in U.S.: Challenges and Benefits

As Chinese language instructors and educators, we are all somehow connected to China. Some teachers teaching Chinese in public school systems in US are on exchange programs with College Board or university-level exchange programs. I talked with two high school teachers last week, both on a one-year exchange program, both excited and then frustrated. What are some of the pros and cons for teachers in these exchange programs? I think the cons seem more obvious than the pros. Teachers only have one academic year to do so many things: getting used to the schools and US culture, getting to know the students and the materials, identifying the goals for their curriculum, adjusting teaching plans, etc. They have so little time to accomplish so many missions. One year is really not enough for them in terms of their professional development. Besides, the teachers feel frustrated because they found out that since their students have very little connection with China, it's difficult to stimulate their interest in learning Chinese. However, they get to experience a teacher's life in the US public school system, which itself is a precious experience for an instructor of CFL. Many professors who claim to know "pedagogy" or "non-heritage students" in their newly-published, fancy hard-covered textbooks actually do not have such experience spending a year in classrooms with these American students with no Chinese backgrounds. Thus, the frustration itself is a great take-away value for teachers in exchange programs, which may hopefully reflect some real problems in US education system. Are you a Chinese teacher in exchange program? How do you feel about this? Come share your thoughts with us by posting. :)


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