This past Saturday, April 22, was a big day for many Chinese teachers in the Palmetto State, as they gathered at Presbyterian College to participate in the first Professional Development Workshop for Chinese Teachers in South Carolina. Held by PC’s, the workshop aims to provide Chinese teachers, both local and Hanban-affiliated, with an opportunity to share and learn teaching methods.
Invited to speak at this workshop were Mr. Steven Frost and Dr. Peggy Prescott, both very experienced local educators.
Mr. Frost is the founder of multiple Chinese learning and testing programs, including the first Alabama public school Mandarin Chinese program at LAMP High School, which later grew into the first public school Confucius Classroom in Alabama. Titled “Skills and Culture in American Chinese Teaching”, his workshop presented an American perspective on what it is like to learn Chinese. Speaking almost exclusively in Mandarin, Frost expounded on how the special methods he regularly used helped him gradually master the language. He specifically emphasized the importance and benefits of using new technologies like cellphone applications and the Internet to assist in teaching and learning Chinese. He also gave advice to the teachers on when and how to teach Chinese characters to American students, who, because of their native language, might struggle to recognize and write characters without the help of pinyin.
Dr. Prescott talked about the philosophy and techniques of classroom management in America, drawing on her own very rich experience in education: before joining the Confucius Institute at Presbyterian College as the Educational Initiatives Coordinator in 2010, she had worked as a curriculum writer for the State Department of Education and the principal of E.B. Morse Elementary School. Besides briefing the audience on the state and conditions of US K-12 and college education, she also went into detail on how to approach classroom management. She, in particular, advised the Chinese teachers to try to build with their students “a community of learners”.
On behalf of Presbyterian College’s Confucius Institute, Dr. David Liu, director of the CI, welcomed all the participants to the workshop and thanked the Confucius Institute at the University of South Carolina and Greenville Chinese Culture Association and its Chinese school for being very supportive of the initiative all along.