I came to the United States seven years ago from Taiwan. I met my husband on my first trip to New York, we fell in love, and I moved here two years after that. I’ve been living here ever since. When I got to New York, my first teaching job was in a public school in an afterschool program for underprivileged kids. Now I teach Mandarin to a diverse group of kids, from all different cultures. It’s really fun to see how fast they pick up the language. It’s amazing. One of my students, Chase, was not a native speaker. He didn’t speak a word, but now, he understands 100 percent of what we’re saying, without translation! He can speak in long sentences, so it’s really amazing to see how fast they pick it up—as long as they’re provided a really fun learning environment. Teaching them Mandarin enhances their experience growing up because it opens their eyes to different cultures and ways of living. I’ve also taught at a middle school in Brooklyn and in a kindergarten class in Harlem. Learning Mandarin makes the kids aware of a different culture. They start saying things like, “Oh, I ate Chinese food yesterday.” That is something they never would have even considered different or fun, and now, they have started to notice and like the difference in cultures.
My name is Chase and I’m 4 years old. I like coming to Ms. Kaya’s class because she teaches us about bugs. I speak English at home, but I come here and speak Chinese. I like it.