February Dual Language Teacher of the Month Yunchi He, Texas Garland Elementary School!
This month, we are honoring Ms. Yunchi He, who has devoted her life to teaching for over 20 years. Yunchi first came to our attention when she was nominated by the Associate Principal, Teresa McCasland, of their school, Texas Garland Elementary School. Teresa had this to say about Yunchi,
Yunchi possesses an infectious excitement for learning and the staff and students alike are uplifted by her enthusiasm, encouragement, and expertise. She models others before self and cultivates a caring and respectful atmosphere. She is preparing students for exceptional leadership roles in the international community by emphasizing servant leadership, mastering the Chinese language, and strengthening the mind, body and character. She uses a variety of strategies such as Total Physical Response, and creates developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate activities that capitalize on her students’ intellectual strengths in learning to communicate effectively. – Teresa McCasland, Texas Garland Elementary School
Texas Garland is a trilingual model in which Spanish/English is 45/45 and Mandarin Chinese is 90/10. Yunchi first began her career teaching college students English in China. She then received her certification in Texas and began teaching in the US. She now teaches Mandarin Chinese- which her students pick up quickly as Yunchi provides them with opportunities to perform in the Chinese Spelling Bee, sing in Chinese in front of an audience, have conversations, and understand the culture of our Asian friends.
Yunchi says she was inspired to be a teacher by her first English teacher. When she was in fifth grade, she first encountered English.
I was fascinated by the beauty of the language and I fell in love right away. My English teacher, Ms. Dong, was a very inspiring and encouraging teacher. She was patient and always went above and beyond to make sure we spoke correctly and understood everything. I progressed fast and well in English and I knew becoming an English teacher was what I wanted to do one day. My dream was becoming a reality after I graduated from Dalian Foreign Languages University. I became a college teacher.
Yunchi first heard about her school when she was in the process of getting her teaching certification. It was exactly what she was looking for.
Continue reading to learn more about the February Dual Language Teacher of the Month…
My favorite part of being a teacher is when I see students making progress and succeed after their hard work, especially when some student overcome the impossible. I must admit that I feel a degree of satisfaction when I see my students seeking me in order to learn more. It is so rewarding to see students become confident and comfortable in using the language they just learned. I was fortunate to become a member of the big family.
Yunchi has also been a catalyst within the community for language acquisition. She was a member of the TLAC (Teach Like a Champion) Committee in their school district, which is a pilot program on researching the best teaching strategies to use in the classroom and how to apply them. She utilizes her research in the classroom, implementing several very effective strategies like Cold Call, positive framing and TPR into her classroom. Students are highly engaged and active in class, allowing them to be both confident but challenged as well. They are not only able to speak the language but also create thoughts using critical thinking. They also are beginning to think in Chinese instead of translating into their first language, getting an answer, and then translating back into Chinese.
Yunchi believes her students have been so successful because of the classroom environment she creates. Students are allowed to make mistakes when using the language. She encourages every student to make their best effort, and try to actively participate. There is a safe and respectful atmosphere in the class which transforms into a close relationship between Yunchi and her students.
Prioritizing creavitity is also a strategy that has allowed Yunchi to be successful with her students. One project that she believes is very helpful in her student’s learning is one where she assigns students a certain topic and asks them to use their own knowledge and resources from the internet or library to create a project. They have to work in groups and come up with a finished product with information and images that cover different aspects of the topic. Then, they present their project in class and teach each other the information they have researched. This allows them to work together and use the language in many facets.
She also celebrates culture and implements authentic biliteracy development by involving them in Lunar New Year performance and Chinese Bee to showcase their Chinese language skills and understanding of the culture. She encourages students to use the language to communicate and attend community events and activities that feature Chinese art and culture in order to prepare themselves for the real world.
I think the ultimate goal of language learning is to be able to communicate in the real-world setting. My students are imaginative, inquisitive and creative. They have the thirst for knowledge and always hunger for more.
Biliteracy is a crucial skill that opens many doors. It’s an advantage that sets one off from others that are not biliterate. It gives a world insight on things and good understanding of different cultures. It creates and promotes world leaders. In our multi-cultural world more opportunities become available with the ability to speak different languages.
Yunchi works to implement this precedent for her students through teaching and telling her students about true stories about people who are biliterate. She also uses videos to give students visual impressions of the benefit of biliteracy. In their Chinese team, there is an American teacher who teaches Chinese and Yunchi often uses her as an example to stress the importance of being biliterate. She also assigns students pen pals with students in China so they can read and write to each other in both Chinese and English. This helps her students to better use their Chinese and the Chinese students to better use their English.
Yunchi hopes to empower her students with knowledge and skills to become leaders. She also hopes to inspire students to be innovative, dedicated, and to be biliterate by setting an example. We thank Yunchi for her tremendous contributions to dual language education!
I can see my students exemplify servant leadership, putting others before self. They exhibit empathy and understanding for multi-cultures throughout their lives. They become biliteracy advocates and are changing the world.