China Studies Seminars from the Asia Society
Beyond Pedagogy: Content Matters in Chinese
By Yun Qin
The linguistic philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, “The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” If we begin with the understanding that students learn a new language in order to experience a bigger world, then it follows that language teachers should not teach languages with the final goal being language acquisition alone. Rather, teachers are tasked with showing students how to use languages as a tool to explore different life directions, to expand their minds, and to push their students beyond their limits. Most teacher-training events I have attended focus on teaching methodologies—in other words, “how to teach.” But without a focus on what to teach, the how to teach falls flat.
To provide an answer to this question of what to teach, the Chinese Language Initiatives team at Asia Society has designed a series of China Studies Seminars. Our goal is to help Chinese language teachers gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of modern China—of Chinese language and Chinese culture per se, as well as to guide teachers to integrate both traditional and contemporary cultural elements into their Chinese classrooms. This summer we facilitated the first seminar in Shanghai. In the coming months, we will share reflections from our participants, and give you a taste of what they experienced through interviews with them and the seminar experts.Read on for details of the seminar, and watch a video to hear from the participants themselves.