2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference
Recap and Highlights
The 15th annual National Chinese Language Conference (NCLC) was a convening of nearly 1,000 Chinese language teachers and education leaders from 16 different countries across the globe. Over the course of the 3-day conference, April 22–24, 2022, participants had their choice of 56 breakout sessions, ten plenaries and keynotes, demonstrations and special discounts from 17 exhibiting corporate sponsors, peer networking, live Taichi and Yoga sessions, and three optional pre-conference workshops. Attendees spent an average of 12 hours and 26 minutes at the virtual conference.
The State of Chinese Language Education & A Vision for the Future
Plenary One of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference
The opening plenary of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference addressed the current state of affairs across the Chinese language education industry in the U.S. and the vision for pathways for the future. The experts all agreed that the keys to success are to provide teachers with professional development opportunities, support the continuation of learning, and build a strong community in the field.
Baocai Jia, a veteran Chinese teacher and Executive Director of the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools, CLASS, is motivated by helping students not only learn Chinese language but also culture. Baocai details how Chinese teachers have worked hard to help each other and played important roles in connecting with the community.
Stacy Lyon, Chinese Dual Language Immersion Director at the Utah State Board of Education, spoke about how her team has developed virtual opportunities to keep students motivated and engaged in dialogue with local and state leaders during this challenging time of a global pandemic. She highlighted that on a positive note, the pandemic gave education leaders a higher proficiency with technology and the capacity to use these tools to engage in new ways of collaboration and support for teachers and students.
Dr. Madeline Spring, Director of the University of Hawaii's Chinese Language Flagship Program, expressed her excitement about teaching Chinese at this time. She advocates for the ways that flagship programs are paving the way for high-level learning and the opportunity to create open-source materials. Dr. Spring envisions a pathway for immersion students to function at a professional level beyond K-16.
“Use language, not only learn the language,” is a way to make an impactful experience for learners as described by Hugh Yao, Founder & CEO of LingoAce. Throughout young learners' development, they start by building an interest in the language and then evolve to prepare for AP Chinese testing. Also, using technology like Zoom can build a virtual community so students can stay connected with each other and understand that they are not alone in this experience. This model can prevent high attrition rates in Chinese language learning.
Click above to watch the NCLC 2022 Plenary One panel discussion in full
Chinese Immersion & Early Childhood Education
Plenary Two of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference
The second plenary of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference discussed the opportunities and challenges for Chinese immersion and early childhood education and envisions its future.
Moderator Shuhan Wang, the Director of CELIN at Asia Society, started out the plenary with the question: “How do you envision your school will look in 10 years?”
Maquita Alexander, Executive Director of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, shared her prediction about the future. She envisions that immersion schools will become much more common and part of public school districts. Maquita foresees that language immersion schools will triple by 2032. With schools producing global citizens, living and speaking Chinese all over the world, alumni will be in the workforce as multilingual families.
Steven Chuang, Founding Principal at Irvine International Academy, sees more opportunities for California communities to start Mandarin immersion programs, starting with preschool and elementary school. He strongly encourages communities to work together to petition local education agencies to advocate for immersion programs.
When asked the question, “Why are Chinese language immersion teachers so hard to come by,” Eric Peterson, Principal at West County Mandarin School, responded that one of the key elements to growing the pipeline is to create more partnerships with universities and nonprofits that see the Chinese language as a strategic form of communication.
Susan Berg, CEO/Executive Director at Yinghua Academy Chinese Immersion School, recommends that one of the key recruiting tools has simply been, happy teachers that spread the word about working at the academy. Other advantageous factors are assistance with the H1B visa process, financial support from the state government to develop teacher leaders, and involvement with programs like CELIN, NCLC, and STARTALK.
Click above to watch the NCLC 2022 Plenary Two panel discussion in full
Why Learn Chinese? A Conversation with Parents
Plenary Three of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference
The third plenary of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference was a moderated conversation with parents, exploring the motivations behind prioritizing Chinese language in their child’s education and the challenges they face.
Moderator Elizabeth Weise, Reporter at USA Today and Founder of the Mandarin Immersion Parents Council blog, started the plenary with gratitude. She expressed her appreciation for teachers because they are the reason that students speak Chinese. Elizabeth posed the question to the panelists, “Why did you choose Mandarin immersion? What helped you on that journey and what advice would you give parents coming into the system?”
Patti Huang, a Parent at a San Francisco Mandarin dual immersion program, reflected on her experience as a young student at an international school in Tokyo. She noticed how students could speak English and Japanese effortlessly. It was at that time that she realized that English alone wasn’t enough and it was more enjoyable to share words and cultural concepts with multilingual friends. Patti chose Mandarin immersion because she felt that it was essential for more opportunities for enhanced problem solving and personal and professional connections.
Love Zubiller, a Parent at Barnard Mandarin Magnet Elementary, enrolled her son in a Mandarin immersion kindergarten program in 2013. He is now in middle school and will continue his immersion program into high school next year. Like many parents in her community, she wants her children to be competitive in the changing world around them. Love continues to advocate for more funding for Mandarin immersion by raising money through her local PTA.
When asked the question, “Why did you choose Mandarin immersion?,” Jennifer Pollino, a Parent at Union County School District, responded about the fact that having this type of program offered at a public school was an opportunity she couldn’t pass on for her child. One of the key support systems on her journey was forming a Mandarin immersion liaison parent committee to champion communication with teachers and network with other schools and parents that have been through similar programs.
Samantha Sather, a Parent at Yinghua Academy, spoke about how growing up in an international, interracial, and interfaith family influenced her decision to choose a Mandarin immersion program for her children. She shared about the choice to tap into her own roots and ancestry to instill a sense of pride in where her children come from. Samantha explained, "I wanted to open the world for my children. Give them the opportunity to work, live and learn abroad."
Click above to watch the NCLC 2022 Plenary Three panel discussion in full
Addressing Race, Racism, and Social Justice in the Chinese Language Classroom
Plenary Four of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference
The fourth plenary of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference discussed the role cultural differences play in the classroom and provided insight into how they address race and social justice issues in their lessons.
Moderator Cleopatra Wise, Director of China Learning Initiatives at the Center for Global Education at Asia Society, started the conversation by asking the panelists, “What have been the challenges that students are facing with equity and social injustice?”
Haiyun Lu, Chinese Language & Culture Teacher, at the University School of Milwaukee and Co-founder, Ignite Chinese, talked about “empathy fatigue,” for both students and education leaders. Educators can encourage intellectual curiosity and turn that momentum into advocacy and allyship. Haiyun encourages teachers to bring their authentic selves, with objectivity, to create a safe space for students to express themselves.
Jennifer Wu-Pope, Mandarin Chinese teacher at Half Hollow Hills School District, and Fulbright Fellow shared a courageous story about how two students of color emailed faculty at her school during the George Floyd protests to tell stories about their experiences with racism. Their email besieged the teachers to use their power in the classroom to stand on the side of justice and equity. For Jennifer, this email underlined how students are watching teachers and waiting for them to stand up and take action. It helped her recognize that education has the power to make a difference.
Kathleen Wang, Principal, at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School, described how a pilot virtual socioemotional peace room during the pandemic allowed students a safe place to go and take a break from their stressors. Her school partnered with grad students at local universities to provide support to adolescents. Kathleen made a powerful statement that resonated with attendees, “Long term inequities require long term perseverance and dedication.”
Click above to watch the NCLC 2022 Plenary Four panel discussion in full
Cultivating Local Chinese Teachers: Battling the Teacher Shortage
Plenary Five of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference
The fifth plenary of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference was a panel of Chinese language teachers and education leaders that discussed practical ways to battle the current Chinese language teacher shortage and how to cultivate a sustainable teacher pipeline.
Moderator Dr. Frank Tang, Research Professor & Co-Director of Project for Developing Chinese Language Teachers at New York University, declared that as educators, it is time to double down on our efforts to resolve the teacher shortage. He asked the panelists, “What kind of challenges do we face and what are we going to do?”
Jeff Bissell, Head of School at Chinese American International School, responded that the most efficient way at the local school level to address the phenomenon that Dr. Tang had mentioned, is not through increasing the teacher supply or recruiting new teachers, but it is through supporting and retaining the teachers that we have right now.
When asked to respond from a classroom teacher and student point of view, Teshurah Lee, Mandarin Language Teacher at Gary Comer College Prep, replied that funding needs to be distributed to programs that intentionally benefit and support the entire child. This is important for students entering the classroom setting so that they can focus on learning in a healthy atmosphere created by the teacher.
Dr. Claudia Ross, Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies at College of the Holy Cross, stated that the most important thing in this field is to give people financial incentive from government funding so that they can begin and continue with Chinese language learning. She advocates for local programs like STARTALK, that can cultivate the best and most motivated students to be guided to teacher training programs.
Dr. Huajing Maske, Executive Director of the Office of China Initiatives at the University of Kentucky, mentioned that having Chinese language teachers in a classroom itself can be a role model for students to become teachers in the future. Dr. Maske recommends partnerships between US and Chinese universities that train Chinese teachers for American K-12 schools.
Click above to watch the NCLC 2022 Plenary Five panel discussion in full
Why Learn Chinese? A Conversation with Language Learners
Plenary Six of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference
The sixth plenary of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference was a panel of Chinese language learners, who explored the motivations behind learning Chinese and the opportunities and challenges learners face.
Moderator Dr. Xiaohong ‘Sharon’ Wen, Director of Chinese Studies at the University of Houston, started out the plenary with the question: “What was your initial motivation for choosing to learn Chinese?”
Amani Core, a Student at the Schwarzman Scholars Program, described the push and pull for his decision. It started as a language requirement in middle school when he felt pushed away from Spanish and pulled towards Chinese. He credits the curiosity and connection with friends in his community as some of the motivators. The theme of his learning experience has been ‘new and challenging’ as he continues to learn the language.
Similar to Amani, Trace St. Julian, a Student at Kinkaid High School, was initially motivated by the challenge of learning a new language, the Chinese characters, and the pronunciation of those characters. He also references the rising influence of China on the world stage and the opportunity to learn about Chinese culture in the community where he currently resides as motivation.
Blake Deckard, a Student at the University of Houston, thought that Chinese characters were intriguing and wanted to learn more about the language. When he was very young he knew that he wanted an international career and learning Chinese would give him a new perspective to see the world in a new way.
When asked the question, “In the learning process, what kind of difficulties did you encounter and how did you overcome them?”, Orianna Germeille, a Student at Grandview High School, answered that when she would hear words that she did not know, it would present a unique challenge. Her response would be to take a step back, and realize that it wasn’t about knowing every word in order to understand and that it was about being conversational.
Click above to watch the NCLC 2022 Plenary Six panel discussion in full
Chinese is a Glocal Language: Engaging Local Chinese Communities
Plenary Seven of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference
The seventh and final plenary of the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference explored how teachers can engage local Chinese communities in their cities to support their students’ language learning and cultural understanding.
During introductions, Moderator Dr. Gail Foster, Founder and CEO of Morningside PlayCare, asked the panelists to talk about how they are connecting students in their classroom to local Chinese communities to promote the language and culture.
Dr. Yan Liu, Assistant Professor, Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University, described how students enrolled in service-learning programs are involved with community engagement. Students identify potential communities, meet with community partners, create a collaboration plan, participate in activities and then complete the program with a reflection project.
Dr. Junrui Garcia, Chinese Language Teacher at One Schoolhouse, engages students with local nonprofits to teach Chinese art, calligraphy and watercolor in the community. The program at One Schoolhouse supports youth with real world knowledge and cultural competency.
Dr. Hsiang-ning Sunnie Wang, Assistant Professor of Chinese Applied Linguistics, at The University of British Columbia, informed the panel about the on campus “Learning Communities” program. Before the pandemic, educators brought students to the outside world. And now, educators are bringing the outside world to the local classroom through experimental teaching and community-based learning.
Click above to watch the NCLC 2022 Plenary Seven panel discussion in full
In addition to the panel discussions shared above, author and educator Stacey Roshan explored how teachers can leverage today's technology in creating a safe learning environment that would empower all students in a panel at the 2022 Virtual National Chinese Language Conference.
Click above to watch the NCLC 2022 keynote speech by Stacey Roshan in full
Asia Society Acting Vice President of Education Neelam Chowdhary also spoke with author and acclaimed education adviser Homa Tavangar about developing global and cultural competence through language education at the 2022 NCLC.
Click above to watch the high-profile dialogue in full