In late January, the Lower School hosted its third annual Chinese Literacy Symposium, a virtual conference that brought together coaches and teachers from across Asia to learn balanced literacy components to increase student engagement and learning in Chinese language classes.
Ninety educators from 17 different schools across Asia and the United States participated in this year's Chinese Literacy Symposium, which was the maximum number that the conference organizers could support. Participants came from Singapore American School, Western Academy of Beijing, Concordia International School Shanghai, UWCSEA, the International School of Beijing, Hong Kong International School, and many other schools.
Led by Lower School Literacy Coordinator, Amanda Jacob, and Lower School Literacy Coach, Stacey Johnson, the one and a half-day 2021 Chinese Literacy Symposium included digital demonstrations, sessions to address some of the big questions that come from taking English language pedagogy when applying it to Chinese language instruction, time to talk with colleagues working in similar settings, resource sharing, and goal setting support.
Jacob admits that her team was "nervous" about shifting to a digital platform after hosting the symposium in person for two years prior. "I was a little unsure how the technology would work on our end and on our participants' ends," said Jacob. "But our assistant IT director gave us great support, and, as a result, the conference exceeded our expectations."
The participants agree. The Director of Mandarin at Concordia International School Shanghai, Jenny Tang, expressed gratitude for the symposium to the organizers. "It is the best virtual workshop I have attended since COVID-19 and the TAS team rocks," said Tang.
Alison Chen of The American School of Bangkok concurs. "What a wonderful experience. I learned so much, and my appreciation is beyond words," said Chen.
Jacob says that due to overwhelmingly positive feedback, the CLS team is planning to offer follow-up sessions on a few Saturdays this spring that will allow participants to "dig a little deeper" into some of the balanced literacy components that they studied during the symposium.
"Our lower school Mandarin team really shone throughout the symposium," said Jacob. "They helped to lead sessions, answered questions, and shared resources with the wider community"
According to Jacob, the symposium is a testament to the immense courage of the lower school teaching faculty, especially in how teachers tackle literacy, language learning, and professional development." It takes courage to try new things, to teach in new ways," said Jacob. "As a strong community, we used this symposium as a way to give one another courage."