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Fellowship Project Report Lei Shen Septembe11, 2014The purpose of this Fellowship Project is to improve my scholarship so as to benefit myself, our students, our program and our school. I’m so grateful for our school to have granted me with such a wonderful opportunity which has allowed me to attend many professional lectures, participate in forum discussions, and observe best teaching practices of veteran teachers from top-tier universities of America and China. Fulfilling this project was intense and overwhelming. In this report, I summarized what I had done to improve my scholarship and then explained what changes I will make in the hope to benefit students and our programs.The following are what I did to improve my scholarship:1. I had time to attend numerous professional lectures, participate in forum discussions on curriculum & materials development and teaching & learning strategies. In addition, I made effort to observe Chinese classes taught by veteran professors from top-tier universities of America and China. Here is a summary of professional events I attended and/or participated.Teaching Practices and Strategies presented by Xiang Chen from Emory University (Intermediate Chinese), Mingda Zhang, from, CET, Beijing Site, Academic Program (Advanced Chinese), etc. The Curricula Development and Design presented by Tong Chen from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (on beginning Chinese), Yu-sheng Yang from Georgetown University (Intermediate Chinese), Youhui Wang from Middlebury College (Intermediate Chinese), Yuwen Yao from University of California at Los Angeles (Advanced Chinese), Jin Zhang from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Advanced Chinese) on June 20, 2014.OPI Training Sessions (Oral Proficiency Interview) conducted by Yu Wu, a certified OPI tester, from University of Massachusetts on June 21, 2014 and on August 10, 2014.Chinese Curriculum Development and Learning Strategies presented by Jianhua Bai, director of Middlebury Chinese Summer School on June 23, 2014.Chinese Phonology presented by Feng Shi from Nankai University in China on July 2, 2014.How to Teach CSL College Students Effectively presented by Li Zhu, Senior Academic Director, CET, Beijing Site, Academic Programs on July 4, monality and Individuality of Chinese Characters, 3 Series presented by Wentao Li from Tufts University on July 21, July 28 and August 4, 2014.Teaching Chinese Pop Culture: Talking about Ma in the Year of Horse presented by Fengtao Wu from Washington University in St. Louis on July 23, 2014. A Comparison of the Pros and Cons of Chinese Textbooks and Teaching Materials Currently Used on American Campuses presented by Fengtao Wu from Washington University at St. Louis on July 25, 2014.How to Teach the Analysis of Tang Poetry presented by Xindan Lian from Denison College on July 30, 2014.Current Trends in Language Teaching presented and led by Judith Liskin-Gasparro, Co-Director of FLARE (Foreign Language Acquisition Research and Education), Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Center for Applied Linguistics and Member of the working group that developed the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines on July 30, 2014. Application of Computer Technology in Teaching Mandarin Chinese presented by Mairead J. Harris from Middlebury Chinese Summer School on August 5, 2014.Using Open-Access Data for Research on CSL Students’ Writing presented by Yang Xiao, Google Research Award 3rd Place Winner, from San Francisco State University on August 8, 2014. Observed classes taught by Yuwen Yao from UCLA, Ye Tian, a former instructor from Harvard University, Fenghua Bao from CET teaching diplomats program and by others.2. I mentored Nathan Bee, a return missionary student in presenting the paper “Interactive Learning: From Controlled to Automaticity” at the Fourth International Forum of Mandarin Chinese Teaching hosted by Mainland China and Taiwan on August 24, 2014. Through our joint effort, Nathan received BYU-Idaho Mentored Students Research Fund. At the conference, Nathan not only shared our ideas of learning Chinese interactively on BYU-Idaho campus, but also met panelists from prestigious universities such as Oxford University and Stanford University.3. One of my goals for this Fellowship Project is to develop a Chinese 302 curriculum or a module that can be tailored to students’ demographic change and to their different needs. Eevery Monday and Friday between June 22 and July 31, 2014, I went to observe groups planning their lessons on the third level Chinese. I also exchanged information with the teachers about their Chinese program, study-abroad program, and the materials they use for their programs. We also shared good moments and bad moments about running these programs. In order to lower the cost of learning materials, between April 23 and June 16, 2014, I searched and collected sufficient free visual and audio materials for this course.4. Another task is to develop a hybrid CHIN & INTNT 345 course. Due to time constraint and recent program change, I do not have a complete and functional hybrid course yet. However, I was able to revamp course organization and prioritized themes that are appealing to students (I follow students’ blogs about China-:). I updated case studies and added tasks that require solutions. It is my hope that by analyzing real cases and solving real problems, students know how to handle them when they run into these situations and problems.5. My spiritual goal is to read and/or listen to as many biblical stories and stories in the Book of Mormon in Chinese first and then in English. I set aside three hours per week to read and /or listen these stories. Most of these stories are targeted at kids and novices so they are easy to comprehend. These stories facilitate me in understanding the Scriptures and explaining to others. The following are changes I will make to benefit our students and our program:1. Communicate better with each individual student and bring the Spirit into classroom. I assumed students are adult learners and do not need much supervision. As long as I put my instructions in black and white or post online, my job is done. However, this may not be the case. My observations indicate that those who were reminded constantly of their strengths and weaknesses did better in their performance. They had a better connection with teachers and were more willing to ask when they had questions. They were more enthusiastic about the subject and learning. I plan to meet students individually more often and most importantly to bring the Spirit into classroom teaching. If the Spirit is present, classes are more likely to go smoothly. 2. Teach holistically in upper-division classes. I fear to present mistakes and right ones side by side. I was worried this may cause unnecessary confusion. My observations show that students like this method because it challenges them to apply and test their knowledge. They learn through trial and error. However, this method is more applicable in upper-division classes where students have already developed the ability to discern subtle linguistic, syntactic and semantic nuance. Thus, I am eager to shift to teach holistically and in comparison. 3. To weave linguistic information into stories. It doesn’t matter whether it is a language class or a science class. Students love interesting and funny stories. It is not easy to be a good story teller, but I am willing to give it a try as long as it facilitates learning. My observations show that students can retain longer linguistic information such as vocabulary and grammar are embedded in a funny or even a silly story. It is a deal of “Love me love my dog.” Unortodox methods can be effective too.4. Set a high bar for lesson plans. It was nerve-breaking for me to observe groups to plan their lessons. Some were active and some were not. Sessions often lasted 5 hour or more. However, what impressed me is their meticulousness about the accuracy of linguistic information and the standardization of lesson plans. Their lesson plans were very detailed and standardized. Objectives were clearly and finely defined. Students are more likely to get consistent information no matter who teaches this lesson. I will follow this example. With this in mind, I will further propose to see if our Chinese Section can develop some kind of standardized assessment tools to assess our courses of different levels. If our assessment can be consistent, the results will turn out more reliable.5. Be tech-savvy and be up-front for innovation. Because of this Fellowship Project, I had time to read quite a few research articles including empirical ones. I am especially interested in technology-facilitated teaching and learning. I’m amazed how many helpful and free materials are available to enhance teaching and learning. For example, one website provides an animated picture for how each consonant or vowel in Chinese is pronounced. Students can come, see and conquer! This reassures me that the more tech-savvy teachers are, the more benefits students will get. Besides, young minds have a low threshold of boredom and need the constant stimulation of various activities and new tricks. Technology can help us realize this. This semester, I will increase the use of various tech tools significantly in developing students’ four skills and raising their culture awareness.6. Get students involved in research more often. While working with Nathan Bee, a student, for presenting a paper in the Fourth International Forum of Mandarin Chinese Teaching hosted by both Beijing and Taiwan this summer, I am confident to say that our students are inquisitive, hard-working, reliable and professional. What they need is a nudge at the direction and opportunities to boost their confidence. Moreover, our service end is students. They know what methods or tricks works or not. A collaboration with students can bring a win-win situations to teachers and students. Nathan shared his conference experience as follows:“Everything worked out very well. It was a great experience to be able to meet teachers from all over Taiwan, China, and even from America.?It was a great experience to be able to see the thought process of teachers who teach Mandarin. I was especially impressed with one teacher who was teaching at Northwestern University. She was very enthusiastic and made her teaching style really entertaining and fun. Everyone was basically shocked to see the sole American at the conference, and it was fun to see the look on people's faces when they saw that I could talk in Mandarin. Thank you so much for the opportunity that I had to speak at the conference! It will definitely be an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. If you ever have an opportunity like this in the future, I would encourage you to try and bring a student with you. It was awesome, and the experience encouraged me to continue studying Chinese. I was actually quite surprised that I understood everything that was going on.”In a word, this Fellowship Project provides me with quality time for recharging and refreshing myself. I will apply what I have learned from my fellow colleagues across America and China in my classroom and hope students can benefit from my Fellow Project as well. ................
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