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Learning Chinese the hard way, as an adult

November 26, 2011

Liberty teacher one of few in district trained to teach Mandarin Chinese

  • SPECIAL TO VIEW

    Liberty High School English and Chinese teacher Denise Tatum visited Beijing in 2010. She has spent four summers studying Chinese in China.

SPECIAL TO VIEW

Liberty High School English and Chinese teacher Denise Tatum visited Beijing in 2010. She has spent four summers studying Chinese in China.

BY JEFF MOSIER
VIEW STAFF WRITER
Posted: Nov. 1, 2011 | 12:20 a.m.

Denise Tatum spent nine weeks during the summer of 2008 at Middlebury College in Vermont speaking only in Mandarin Chinese. If anyone at the college heard a word of English from her, she would get a warning. The second time, she would forfeit her payment and be kicked out.

“It was a long summer,” said Tatum, who now teaches Chinese and English at Liberty High School, 2700 Liberty Heights Ave. “But it was worth it.”

Keeping in touch with the ones she loved was a challenge, too.

To speak with her kids, Tatum would sneak out of her dorm late at night, hide behind shrubs or trees and whisper to them on the phone.

“It was a very rough period,” Tatum said. “It was so much harder than being in China.”

She would know. Tatum has participated in four Chinese language immersion programs in Chengdu, Changchun and Shanghai, China, since 2006, when she was first introduced to the idea.

Read more here.

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