It takes only one to make a difference
Taiwan’s ministry of education began sending Taiwanese teachers to teach Mandarin Chinese abroad in 2009. So far, 607 Taiwanese teachers are teaching Mandarin Chinese at universities in 16 countries: The United States, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Paraguay, Mexico, and Malawi. In the 2016 academic year, 130 teachers will be dispatched to 15 countries to teach Mandarin Chinese.
Assistant professor of the Practical Mandarin Chinese Teaching Department at the Taiwan Normal University, a Ms. Chen Ya-fang, teaches at the Institute of Asian and African Studies of the Moscow State University.
Russia has mostly invited Chinese mainland teachers to teach Mandarin Chinese in Russia. But, the Russians discovered that the Taiwanese teachers teach in a more lively and more active way than the Chinese mainland teachers, allowing students to engage themselves with the language more freely and openly, and thus giving them more opportunities to practice speaking. Three of her Moscow State University students have gone to Taiwan to pursue their degrees.
Taiwanese teachers versus Chinese mainland teachers
On August 4, 2015, the BBC reported on a two-week educational experiment, importing the “Chinese teaching style” to groups of British students. The conclusion was that the students felt “incarcerated in the classroom” and the curriculum was “narrow”. No questions by students were allowed, classroom discipline deteriorated instead of improving under the strict, despotic and authoritarian head teacher. The premise that perhaps the “Chinese teaching style” was somehow superior to the “British teaching style” was a myth that was utterly shattered. The students felt it was robot learning, constantly being lectured to, and only test scores mattered. The classroom environment was “stressful”. Stress and a stressful learning environment indeed hinder learning.
It only takes one good teacher to make a difference, and in the case of Ms. Chen Ya-fang, a lifelong difference in the lives of three of her Russian students.