Class of 2021: Graduate student gains practical experience in teaching Mandarin

Class of 2021: Graduate student gains practical experience in teaching Mandarin

C heng Lam Ku of Macao is the beneficiary of a collaboration between Georgia College and the ALLEX Foundation–who provided graduate-level training with some of America’s finest experts in Asian language pedagogy (plus instruction in American standards of classroom management and instructional software, as well as student teaching), at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She will receive her Master of Arts in English in December. 

Cheng Lam Ku
Cheng Lam Ku

During Ku’s time at Georgia College, she gained valuable practical experience in teaching Mandarin in the World Languages & Cultures Department. The only Mandarin teacher at the university, Ku taught two courses each semester for two years. A graduate teaching assistant under the supervision of (first) now Professor Emerita Dr. Peggy Elliott, and most recently, World Languages & Cultures Department Chair and Professor of French Dr. Libby Murphy, Ku was responsible for course planning, activities design, and the teaching and evaluating of students.  

“Dr. Murphy gave me many valuable and professional suggestions about teaching and classroom management,” she said. “Dr. Elliott encouraged and taught me a lot when I was a new teacher. I appreciate their help on my way to becoming a professional language teacher.”

Ku took the course “Teaching Writing Pedagogy” with Dr. Joy Bracewell, who shared many ideas in class. Her favorite teaching theory is learning while teaching. Ku plans to apply this concept in her profession.

“I used to think that teaching is one-sided, as teachers teach students new knowledge,” she said. “However, education is mutual—teachers learn from students too. This teaching theory helped me improve myself while teaching.” 

“I am very proud of my students. Listening to them speak and read Chinese fluently after taking my class is very rewarding. They started with zero knowledge about Mandarin, and now they can do basic communication in another language. It’s something that I look most forward to in teaching.”
– Cheng Lam Ku

Ku’s students have ranged in age from preschoolers to adult learners, which includes her time teaching in Macao.

“I enjoy teaching little kids, because they are very imaginative and creative,” she said. “But I also like to teach adults, because I get a sense of fulfillment, helping people accomplish their dreams.”

Ku is passionate about seeing her students learn a new language and improve.

“I am very proud of my students. Listening to them speak and read Chinese fluently after taking my class is very rewarding,” she said. “They started with zero knowledge about Mandarin, and now they can do basic communication in another language. It’s something that I look most forward to in teaching.”

Cheng Lam Ku teaches Mandarin.
Cheng Lam Ku teaches Mandarin.

After Ku graduates from Georgia College, her love of teaching Mandarin will take her to different countries to teach non-Chinese speakers the language. At the same time, she’ll be learning about their cultures, as well.

Ku enjoyed the opportunities the International Education Center (IEC) and the International Club afforded her. She thanks the IEC staff for helping her transition to Georgia College.

“I really appreciate all the opportunities GC has given me,” she said, “especially the International Education Center, where Dr. James Callaghan helped and introduced me to the university. Mr. Jason Wynn helped me go through the paperwork. Ms. Susie Ramage cared and supported me, and Ms. Sandra Moore helped also.”

Other administrative units across the campus including Academic Affairs, the College of Arts & Sciences and many others, also contributed to Ku’s success at Georgia College.

She thrived during her time at the university.

“I like the inclusive culture at Georgia College,” Ku said. “No matter where you are from or what nationality you are, you will feel at home at GC.”