Learning, Teaching, and Promoting Bilingual Education: a Q&A with Siqi Tao ’17

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Siqi TaoSiqi Tao ’17 is a student in the Bilingual Childhood Education program. She recently discussed her experiences as an international student in New York City and at Fordham GSE.

Why do you want to be a teacher?
I really like to share what I know with others, not only my peers but also children. I appreciate the opportunity to grow up together with children: when I am teaching them, I am also learning from them, about how they think of the world, especially how they think of the different cultures and customs between different countries.

Why did you choose to study in America?
I majored in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language when I was an undergraduate student, and I would like to be a bilingual teacher to teach both Mandarin and English to children. I believe it doesn’t mean just teaching two languages; it also includes the culture and behavior behind them. I decided to study in America to take a closer look at the cultures and customs and to benefit my future teaching career, whether in the U.S. or China.

Why did you choose Fordham and the Bilingual Childhood Education program?
The Bilingual Childhood Education program at Fordham University is well structured, and the curriculum is detailed, with all the courses titles and schedule posted online. So we don’t have to worry about failing to graduate on time.

The GSE provides us a lot of opportunities to do observation and student teaching in different schools, so that we can experience diverse teaching styles and work with and learn from experienced teachers, as well as prepare ourselves to become qualified teachers. Besides, there is more and more 2nd or 3rd generation Chinese immigrants living in New York, and it’s extremely important for them to know more about Chinese language and culture.

So I came here, to learn, to teach, and to promote bilingual education.

What has been your most exciting New York City experience?
I was volunteer in the Fantastic Art of China exhibition at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. It was held to celebrate the new year of China, and I have never thought that I could have a chance to celebrate Chinese Festivals in the United States. It was a fantastic event with about 580 pieces of artwork exhibited and a series of follow-up activities, like light show at the Empire State Building and firework show near the Hudson River. I really appreciate the opportunity to participate in preparation of a big event. And there are a lot of other events in NY to celebrate New Year of different countries: you’ll never feel lonely.

Watch Siqi and her fellow students discuss their experiences at Fordham GSE. Watch on Youku.

What are the biggest differences you’ve found between Chinese and American classrooms?
I would like to talk more about the elementary school classroom because I found it is totally different from classrooms in China. The biggest difference is that in China, we have different teachers to teach different subjects, like Chinese language and arts, Math, History, Chemistry, etc. One teacher just has to get familiar with one or two subjects. However, in the American, one teacher teaches most of the subjects such as ELA, Math, Social Study, Science, and Art. At first it really shocked me that teachers have so many responsibilities in American classrooms! But after my observation of some elementary schools, I realized that this model could be much more efficient to bridge the gaps among different disciplines at early years.

What advice do you have for students thinking of studying in New York and/or at Fordham?

  • Get yourself well prepared: search for as much information about the program as you can before you come to the U.S., and read more English materials; try to strengthen resistance of pressure and always be strong.
  • Be a time manager: learn to organize your time to study and to have fun, and never burden yourself by too much study or work.
  • Be social: know more people, and keep contact with your close friends.
  • Get more experience: go traveling with friends, or do some volunteer job during summer vacation.
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