Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Teaching Experience in the U.S.

Post by Lu Yang: Lu is in her 2nd year of teaching Chinese at Bettendorf High School. She is a certified Chinese Guest Teacher from China 

Before I begin to talk about my experience, I may introduce myself a little bit. I’m a certified Chinese teacher from Chinese Guest Teacher Program, which is sponsored by Hanban and College Board. Every year since 2008, they choose and send excellent Chinese teachers to US for mutual benefit. I’m not the only one. There are over 200 of us in the U.S. 

How can a Chinese teach in US? First, you have to pass through an extensive screening process. Second, you will be interviewed in person by the College Board and NCSSFL interview team. Then you have to go through an intensive professional training both in Beijing Normal University and UCLA. Finally, you survive and you can come to the school of US to teach. It took me almost half of the year to become a teacher in US, it’s not very easy. Why am I so desired to do so? I think experiencing different culture and language is the most wonderful part of life. And I feel I’m so lucky and honored to do such meaningful job.

  First Impression of U.S.

1. No cars, no legs.

2. Hi-bye greetings

3. You can rarely see tall buildings.

4. When you take out $100 to pay the bill in the store, people will show you a surprised face. And different coins drive me crazy, especially their value not in accordance with their size. In order to save time for the rest people waiting to check out, every time I pay by cash. The result is that I carry more and more coins every day until I get my debit card.

5. People here eat hamburgers, sandwiches or pizzas every day. In China, these kinds of food can only be snacks after meals. Thus I felt sad for American people: how boring it would be to eat such food all year around!

6. First snow arrived in late October! Even though it's freezing outside, students wear shorts, slippers while I’m wearing the thick sweater. I have to say I'm very confused with the season.

                                        Education Differences Between U.S. and China

1. Students have assigned classroom and seats, teachers travel among different rooms in China.

2. Tight bell schedule of one High School in China:


Get up
Running exercise
Self- study


Five sections
Break-morning physical exercise


Lunch and break time
Three sections
Activity and dinner time.       


I guess only highly motivated Chinese students can endure such tight schedule. At the very beginning of three-year high school life, most of the students already have a clear picture of the future in their mind-what university they want to go to or what kind of life they want to live.

There is no formative assessment, just mid-term exam and final exam. All the exercises, homework or projects are not counted for credits, just for students' benefits. And what they learn is also so limited, just focus on the academic subjects. More options are provided in the university. In U.S., students have an access to different subjects to extend their potentials. When the first time Mr. Casas showed me around in our school building, I was really shocked. Students can learn business management, photography, advertisement design, cooking, car maintenance and even woodwork, not to mention all kinds of professional sports team and clubs. What a colorful and exciting school life here!

3. The tradition of respecting teachers in China
Teachers in public schools are treated like government office worker, all their benefits come from the government. Parents care much about their kids’ performance at school at such vital period, so they keep the best corporation with teachers.
On teacher's Day, students send flowers, cards and presents to their favorite teachers. There is a saying in China" Be your teacher one day, be your father forever", which means teachers are very influential person to one's life; you should respect them like you respect your father. Thailand also has the same tradition. Students have to go down on their knees to ask questions or turn in their homework.

4. Class management in China
Before I really worked in US's high school, a lot of professional trainings I received is about the class management, like you have to set up your rule on the first day of school and repeat it again and again. At that time, I totally didn't understand why teachers have to put so much emphasize on discipline. In China, students are supposed to keep quiet while teacher is teaching. If you have any questions, ask the teachers after class. You don't have to tell them to shut down the phones or remain sitting on the seats. That’s the common sense for every student who’s in the classroom. Actually, every class has a student council with a class monitor, group leaders and PE and arts representatives. Students manage themselves, organizing class meeting, sports meeting and etc.

In US, teachers have the duty to observe students all the time in the school building, even during the passing time and lunch time. In Chinese high school campus, students learn to take care of themselves before they enter into the university and do what you should do at the right time, even at self-study time, no teachers will come.

                                            My Chinese Class- My Students and Me

Students are eager to experience a new language and culture and want to challenge themselves  by learning the most difficult language in the world. In my class, I speak Chinese as much as possible, in order to give students a direct output- what Chinese language sounds like. Since I've already known US high school students are much more active in class, I abandon the traditional teaching style to lecture students but educate them and I stick to the principle-Learning while playing. Students are totally engaged in fun games and class activities to learn Chinese. Students love cultural Friday, when I introduce Chinese culture and teach Chinese handcrafts. At the same time, I pick up a lot of English and American culture from my students. There are several funny moments when I'm trying to explain something in English. For example, what I’m supposed to say is “Look at the sheet I give to you”, while I made it sound like” Look at the sh*t I give to you”. The other example is the “Cut two eyes” in the paper cut class, however I gave the instruction like “Cut two a#s”. Students and I always burst into laughter. No matter me or students, we learn a lot from language mistakes.

Every time students who were in class before greet me in Chinese, I feel so happy and self-fulfilled. And no matter how much money , it cannot buy this kind of happiness and accomplishment .I still remember my students' nice words to encourage me on the first Chinese class meeting, they said" you are best teacher ever" “you are doing great and you don't have to change anything". I think just because of what they said made me want to stay here and enjoy my teaching here so much!

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