On Saturday, February 15, 2020, Hunter College’s Chinese Flagship Program and Columbia University’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute had the honor of jointly hosting a Professional Development Workshop under the direction of Ms. Ying Jin. This workshop aimed at addressing and answering the curious challenges instructors face when attempting to teach to 21st century minds. Ms. Jin, a seasoned expert of Chinese language instruction, answered the call of this workshop, “Innovative Ideas to Foster the 21st Century Minds” by calling for an emphasis on meaningful communication, so that all students can begin building foundational, real-world skills throughout their language learning journey.
Nearly 70 Chinese teachers and administrators, representing learners of Chinese across the whole spectrum of instruction, ranging from grade school all the way to collegiate study, gathered on Saturday morning to attend Jin’s workshop. Besides sharing some of her personal experience, gained over her 20 years of teaching, she also offered practical tips and classroom-proven activities to engage the variety Chinese-learners teachers work to serve during their day-to-day work.
Recognizing the importance of maintaining student interest in course material, Jin showed participants how, if flexible and inventive, instructors can draw on a wide variety of sources and material to develop fresh, new teaching strategies. While sharing a total of 20 different language acquisition strategies, Jin reminded participants that they should not focus on where the methods may come from; rather, they should focus on developing inventive, non-labor intensive strategies that are easy for students to pick up. Strategies for speaking, listening, reading, and writing were all provided, many of which participants tried themselves. Participants found most methods to be intuitive, easy to pick up, and helpful in meeting the overarching goal of establishing meaningful communication for 21st century minds.
Workshop organizers hope that participants can use the tools built during this workshop to better incorporate their students’ development of interpretive, interpersonal, presentational communication in speaking, listening, reading, and writing.