Ignite Chinese: Spark the brain, ignite learning, transform Chinese programs, support teachers
Why TCI? What makes Ignite Chinese’s resources different from others?
I knew I wanted to become a teacher when I was 7. Something about my 1st grade teacher, Ms. Wu, had really inspired me. Her friendly and calm demeanor, her soft and soothing voice, her kind and supportive heart, and her nurturing and warm soul had drawn me to her closely that I wanted to become her.
In the past 30 plus years, life has presented many different paths to me. I worked in various jobs: business, restaurants, TV stations, and schools. In the end, I know a classroom is where I truly belong. A classroom is where my happiness, passion, dreams, creativity and connection dwell.
I am a language classroom teacher, I’m proud of that.
I often like to ask myself two questions: What do I want from the students? What can I give to them?
Therefore, I made two lists:
What do I want from students?
- sparks in their eyes
- smiles on their faces
- confidence in their hearts
- participate with interests
- listen with focus
- observe with senses
- be present with ease
- leave with success
What can I give to students?
- a positive classroom
- a safe environment
- Brain research based instruction
- Best practices
- effective language teaching methods
I’m a classroom teacher, I work with kids daily. I experience personally what works, or what doesn’t. I witness different teaching method’s positive or negative impact on students’ learning outcome and general wellbeing. For examples: While the Audiolingual method of language teaching relies on repetition and drills, which ignores a brain’s need for novelty; the communicative approach can leave students in suspense as to the outcome of a class exercise, which will vary according to their reaction and response. Therefore, it can easily become a source of anxiety and frustration. This all lead to Teaching with Comprehensible Input (TCI).
Comprehensible Input says, as Stephen Krashen puts it,
“We acquire language in only one way, when we understand messages, that is when we obtain “comprehensible input.” Thus, we acquire when we understand what people tell us or what we read, when we are absorbed in the message. More precisely, we acquire when we understand messages containing aspects of language that we are developmentally ready to acquire but have not yet acquired.”
Yes, if teaching is comprehensible, that’s when the students can turn on the sparks in their eyes, smile on their faces, focus on their minds, joy in their hearts, attentive participation in their action, confidence in their voices… we are all on a smooth ride.
There are 3 major “comprehensible input” based language teaching methods, which all contribute to a compelling and positive learning experience and outcome: Focal Skills by Dr. Ashley Hastings; Total Physical Response by Dr. James Asher and Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling by Blaine Ray.
I’m a classroom teacher, I see the results. After I moved away to teach grouped but isolate vocabulary in a thematic unit, after I moved into TCI, Chinese just starts to fall out my students’ mouths in no time. Well, after their “silent period” if you want to know when specifically. When new teachers come to observe my classes, ofthe, they could tell whether or not I even have a Chinese I class because everybody can speak with ease.
Teaching Chinese, a category 4 language, is not easy. The lack of cognates, the tonal system in speaking and hanzi in writing, in addition, native Chinese teachers’ cultural assimilation or margerlination could all contribute to a program’s success or failure.
I am a Chinese American. I am proud of my cultural identity. I want to prompt my mother tongue and my heritage, I also want to provide western learners with something authentic which could connect with you vs. be viewed as exotic by you.
This is why I pursue TCI. This is why Ignite Chinese was born.
We are here to serve and meet your needs. We are here to support and inspire. We are here to provide comfort as well as a platform for you to succeed.
Haiyun Lu Bio
Haiyun has been a Chinese language teacher since 1993. She currently teaches at one of the top rated independent schools in the midwest. She is a presenter at various language related national conferences and a coach in Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. She is a story writer in Chinese.