Students (and Mrs. Hall) Learn Mandarin from an Expert


Madison Polack, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Notre Dame de la Baie Academy is one of the few schools in the area that offers a Mandarin class to not just the students–but the teachers too.

Mrs. Qiuhong Zhang, Mandarin teacher, gives many reasons why students should learn this foreign language.

*Chinese is spoken by more than a billion people, making it the most widely spoken language in the world.

*Chinese words are artistically formed. This includes the beautiful handwriting, melodic spoken language and poetic phrasing that makes learning Chinese mentally stimulating, interesting and fun.

* Chinese culture is one of the oldest in the world. Their splendid traditions in literature, arts and cuisine make it a fascinating culture.

* China is one of the largest and most important business and economic partners of the United States. Learning Chinese could be important for any future careers.

Mrs. Zhang, who has taught Mandarin in China, Canada and the  United States, is originally from China, where she earned a master’s degree, and then traveled to Canada, obtaining another master’s degree, before coming to the U.S.

Mrs. Zhang teaches three levels of the class including Mandarin I, II and III.

She exudes enthusiasm about teaching here:  “My students are talented and eager to learn. I enjoy teaching everyday and every class. We have a fun time learning the language and sharing in the experience of the Chinese culture.”

Rachel Philipp, a freshman student taking Mandarin I, said, “I decided to take this class because I have always been interested in the Chinese culture and their language. It has been pretty difficult, not going to lie, but it is just a lot of memorization. Over some time, the characters become more familiar. I will take Mandarin II next year because of the great experience that I am having learning it this year.”

Mrs. Jane Hall, theology teacher at NDA, is giving up her prep period this year to sit in on a Mandarin class. She chose to do this because she is interested in different cultures, and this past summer she had the opportunity to go to Japan. Mrs. Hall worked on learning Japanese before she went to Japan so she could try to communicate with her Japanese brothers. This experience piqued her curiosity regarding the Asian culture.

“With having Mrs. Zhang here,” said Mrs. Hall, “I have the opportunity to have a professional help me learn an Asian language. This was something I just could not pass up.”

One of the students in the Mandarin class said, “I am impressed Mrs. Hall wants to keep learning side by side with us. She brings energy and life to the class. I enjoy the playfulness she brings to class.”

Also, Mrs. Hall feels like she has become a better teacher because of this experience. She is reminded daily of what it is like to be a student going from class to class and having to switch gears. Also, she is reminded about the desire to succeed and the immense effort it takes to do so.

“It forces me to reflect on all these things to see how I can improve myself for a better learning experience for my students,” she said.