Last month, we announced that we are expanding our World Language Program to include Chinese (Mandarin) beginning this fall! The Chinese program, which will be offered to ages 3 – grade 2, will use a play-based, highly kinesthetic approach. Now, we’re introducing you to the experienced and talented Chinese language educator who will lead our youngest learners in becoming brave, and more diversified, communicators: Yingli Zhang!
Yingli, also known as Zhang Laoshi, is a state-certified Chinese language educator and has been teaching Mandarin Chinese, Chinese culture, and history at an IB charter school for more than 10 years.
Yingli was born in Northeast China and grew up in Beijing. She attended the Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xian, China where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. She also attended Kyoto Institute of Technology and earned her first master’s degree in mechanical and system engineering.
In 2004, Yingli began teaching and soon realized that it was her true calling in life. After joining an Atlanta charter school in 2007 as one of their founding teachers, she soon recognized the significance and importance of not only being an educator in a child’s life but the role that foreign language and culture education can have in the positive growth and development of every child.
Besides teaching, she loves spending time with my family, and I enjoy listening to music, reading, cooking, traveling, and craft making.
What drew you to the TCS community?
At the charter school I worked at for the past 10 years, I was a founding teacher and helped establish their current Chinese language program. I thought that it would be nice to take a new route and establish a Chinese program at a school more local to me, and I found the TCS community to be amazing and very nurturing to their students.
What excites you most about teaching Chinese?
I love being around kids and have a great passion for teaching Chinese language and culture. Inspiring others and shaping their paths always helps me shape my own and enrich my life a bit more.
Who was your favorite teacher in school and why?
A teacher who positively affected my attitude toward education was my high school math teacher, Ms. Yu. She gave me confidence in my ability to do math and methods to use in the future. Ms. Yu’s simple teaching method gave me the strategies to be successful in solving math problems. She wouldn’t hesitate to help her students whenever they were confused.
Overall, she was a great teacher and pleasant person. I believe she has positively affected my attitude toward education because she’s a good example of a great teacher who has helped students improve not only their math skills but also their other subjects. Even though I am not a math teacher, I have confidence and a clear strategy to teach kids Chinese with the skills I have learned from her.
How many languages do you speak?
I was born and grew up in China and studied in both Japan and the U.S., so I can speak Chinese, Japanese, and English.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
I started learning the Pipa (a Chinese traditional music instrument) when I was six years old. Like learning any instrument, it required a lot of patience, persistence, and practice. Even though sometimes it was difficult, I eventually enjoyed it a lot and developed a real skill for it. Even to this day, I look back at all those 5:30 a.m. practices fondly.