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Yingjia Zheng headshot

Affiliation: Master’s Student
Program: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
Homeland: Shenzhen, China

In her hometown of Shenzhen, China, Yingjia Zheng taught Chinese to foreigners the way she’d been taught in school.

“We throw balls to students there,” she says, her way of explaining that delivery of instruction comes strictly from the teacher.

So she was a bit confused when she came to Warner, where she found herself in peer groups that learn from each other through lengthy classroom discussions. Enrolled in the master’s program in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), Zheng, who will graduate in May 2014, developed a quick appreciation for the way Warner approaches education—an appreciation that started with her interview.

“The professor who I spoke with asked for details and gave me the space to present myself,” recalls the 24-year-old. “It convinced me that Warner is very serious. And when I got here, every instructor was very nice, willing to solve problems, and happy to offer opportunities.”

Among those opportunities: a stint translating medical terminology for American-born Chinese medical students at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and a part-time job at the Chinese School of Rochester in Brighton, teaching Chinese to children ages 3 through 5 on Saturdays. Through her ties at the school, she also hosted half-day workshops in Chinese painting for all ages at area schools and museums. (On her own, Zheng worked at the on-campus Starbucks to learn more about American culture.)

Although she has completed her courses at Warner, Zheng expanded her program to include a current internship at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, where she’s teaching Chinese to students during the spring 2014 semester. She hopes when she’s finished, she’ll have the chance to accumulate more teaching experiences in the U.S.—experiences that expose her to different pedagogies and strengthen her ability to connect more with future students—while applying to PhD programs.

Zheng plans to integrate plenty of student feedback into her lessons while at Gettysburg, including the use of K-W-L charts, which track what a student knows, wants to know, and has learned about a topic.

She learned about the charts from a student at Warner, whose recommendation to use them for a research project prompted a classroom-wide conversation.

“Students there raise a lot of good points,” she says, “and now I know that discussions can be good lessons for me. It’s a very relaxed way to learn.”