There is always something special about the FIRST

By Yang Du

The first week’s tutoring was really exciting! Both of my tutees were hard-working and enthusiastic about Chinese. Before I entered the classroom, I had a rather naïve thought that undoubtedly, I WAS their teacher because of my knowledge of Chinese. But actually, it was not the case. My students whose native language was not Chinese could even be my teacher! Let me elaborate this interesting anecdote for you.

In our first meeting, I planned to teach the systematic knowledge of Chinese alphabet, namely, pinyin, to my tutees. Nevertheless, one of my tutees waved his head and denied, “No. I don’t want to learn this. This is unnecessary to my future use.” Out of curiosity, I asked his reason and got to know that he would need to do business in China in future. Thus what he preferred to learn was not the comprehensive Chinese linguistic knowledge, but some basic communicative skills which could serve him well in bargaining, shopping, and negotiating in China. Consequently, his needs, although invalidated my former syllabus, facilitated a new page of my tutoring career—- students’ needs-oriented teaching. This change really means a lot to me!

About TC@Penn

University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education
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