Hong Li has 17 years of experience teaching English to Chinese speaking individuals but will spend this year teaching Medfield students Chinese as the school district’s mandarin teacher.
“Ms. Li was the teacher that we had a number of conversations back and forth with our private school in Bengbu [China] and she’s been hired this year to teach Chinese for us and she’s teaching at the middle school in grades six, seven and eight and at the high school,” said Bob Maguire, Medfield Superintendent of Schools.
Li passed the Mandarin Test of Teachers in China and is excited to work with Medfield students and teach them about the Chinese culture and the various components that make up the Chinese language.
“I love teaching and I love kids,” Li said. “Children know China from the history lessons but they are eager to know about modern China. This year, we are going to learn some information about the country and we will learn how to express the sound of the Chinese language.”
Li plans to teach students how to write and properly enunciate Chinese characters, count numbers and develop conversations in the language.
“This year, we will learn to greet each other, count numbers, [learn] how family members talk about hobbies, the past and so on,” Li said. “We will act out the dialogue in class and assign Chinese names to the students. They are so excited about their Chinese names.”
Taking instruction beyond the language, which is something Maguire would like to see these programs achieve, Li will also focus her lessons on the modern culture of China.
“Students are very eager to experience and accept different cultures,” Li said. “I think the more interest that we have in Chinese language, or the more about China the country will [make individuals] be more friendly about the people.”
Li says her course will assess students’ progress through quizzes, tests and projects. Extra help will also be available for students who need assistance.
“If students need extra help, I will be very glad to give extra help after school,” Li said. “We will move at a very suitable pace for the students and we will constantly review what we have studied.”
School committee member, Chris Morrison, spoke highly of the program and said his daughter is eager to learn Chinese.
“My daughter is already looking forward to it and she’s still three years away,” Morrison said.
Li’s course is part of Medfield’s China Exchange Program that will be sending nine students and two teachers from and to Bengbu, China in October for three weeks.
“We’ve talked about this program a number of times and the goal really is language and we are very interested in the repertoire offered in Medfield,” Maguire said. “Learning any language is good but certainly now a lot of information and a lot of conversations being had nationally are about elevating the study of Chinese language. The other study is cultural. Developing a cultural appreciation.”
Maguire said the school district recently received notification that it will be funded for the second year of the Confucius Classroom Grant, monies that will be used to send Medfield students to Bengbu.
“We are one of 16 school districts in the country to receive this grant,” Maguire said. “This year’s grant has been funded already for $11,000. It works for a lot of the activity that we are doing. Those costs for the trips on the exchange side of things and all of that doesn’t come from the school budget at all, those are all off budget. We still have pending another $30,000 grant.”
As for the trip in October, Maguire said plans are being finalized and those participating in the program are ready for the experience.
“The nine students and two teachers leave for Bengbu on the 20th of October,” Maguire said. “Kids are very excited and this is our return trip in the exchange program.”
Students from Bengbu, China visited Medfield last fall.