Addressing the huge need in the United States for more teachers of Mandarin Chinese, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development recently began a working relationship with East China Normal University (ECNU)-the NYU partner school in Shanghai. The agreement allows up to 10 Chinese graduate students per year to study foreign language education at NYU. This past June, Steinhardt Dean Mary Brabeck and clinical professor of foreign language education Frank Tang traveled to Shanghai to formally execute the commitment between the two schools.
Four graduates of ECNU are beginning their graduate studies at NYU this semester. Upon completion of three semesters worth of study, the students will be certified to teach in public and private schools in New York State. Steinhardt and the Office of Chinese Language Council International of the Chinese Ministry of Education will offer tuition assistance for the students, an important incentive for students who often cannot afford to attend American graduate schools. In China, students in teacher education programs receive incentives of free tuition.
"This partnership affirms NYU’s position as a truly global university," said Brabeck. "And it is a great fit for Steinhardt. Teaching is a profession with great esteem in China, and ECNU and Steinhardt are committed to sharing the highest academic standards."
"There is a huge need nationwide for K-12 teachers of Chinese," said Tang, who also directs the Program in Multilingual Multicultural Studies in Steinhardt’s Department of Teaching and Learning. "School districts in both big cities and small towns are now very interested in teaching Chinese, as well as offering dual-language programs for students."
As China becomes a major economic power and the need for Chinese-language speakers becomes more critical in the U.S., parents and school districts are searching for highly qualified teachers of Chinese. Graduates of Steinhardt’s program in Chinese language education easily find jobs upon graduation, said Tang.
The partnership also fits nicely with the New York City Department of Education’s Partnership for Teacher Excellence program with NYU and CUNY to attract qualified teachers in high-need areas, said Brabeck. The DOE recruits new teachers from around the world, but often the transition to New York City schools is jarring. Foreign teachers often experience culture shock when beginning to work in New York City schools.
"With this new Steinhardt model, the Chinese students will be immersed in the culture of New York City schools even before they begin teaching," said Brabeck. "They, like all of our student teachers, will be in our host schools, working with teachers and taking some of their graduate coursework inside the schools. They will be exposed to the reality of the public schools."
The students themselves are thrilled with the opportunity to study at NYU. Lu Jiang, a 22-year-old ECNU student who already has experience teaching Chinese as a second language in China, is looking forward to "becoming more familiar with the educational system in the U.S." New York City, she says, reminds her of Shanghai in terms of its concentration of people. But, she concedes, "The weather is better here."