Meet our faculty members in Asian Studies and learn more about their background and passions! In this Faculty Spotlight, we introduce you to Li Yang, our new Lecturer in Chinese Language! She shares with us how her passion for Chinese language and cultures began and her goals for her students. Prior to joining UBC, she had taught Chinese language courses for 15 years at the University of Alberta.
Could you tell us a little about your academic background prior to joining UBC Department of Asian Studies? What brought you to Asian Studies?
I began my formative training in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language at Zhejiang University in China. My fascination with the Chinese language and culture, particularly Chinese characters, started from a young age. During my undergraduate years, I had the opportunity to study as an exchange student at Hong Kong Baptist University, an experience that ignited a desire to explore the world and approach Chinese culture from diverse perspectives.
In pursuit of my passion for Chinese Studies, I moved to Canada in 2008 to pursue an M.A. degree at the University of Alberta. During my time at UA, I was fortunate to be part of the Chinese language program as an instructor, allowing me to develop my teaching skills. The joy of teaching and the desire to continuously improve my abilities drove me to embark on another master’s degree in educational policy studies in 2014 while still managing my work responsibilities. My dedication to teaching was rewarded when I received two teaching awards from the Faculty of Arts at UA this year. These accolades served as powerful encouragement, affirming my commitment to a fulfilling teaching career.
Given the robust and comprehensive Chinese program offered at the UBC Department of Asian Studies, which is the largest of its kind in North America, I decided to join their esteemed faculty. My goal is to further advance my teaching expertise and contribute to this thriving academic environment. I am eager to continue my journey as an educator at UBC and continue making a positive impact on the lives of my students while enriching their understanding of Chinese language and culture.
What inspires you to teach?
My passion for Chinese language and cultures has always driven me to find a profound sense of accomplishment in teaching. I firmly believe that teaching is a dynamic process of continual learning and sharing. Interacting with my students and exchanging knowledge with them brings me immense joy and fulfillment. In my classroom, I embrace the idea that every student is also a teacher, enriching our collective learning experience with their unique stories and diverse backgrounds. Their presence inspires me to stay abreast of current trends in education and empowers me to create dynamic and engaging classes that resonate with their interests.
Can you tell us what you will be teaching in the UBC Department of Asian Studies?
I will be teaching Chinese language courses for both heritage (CHIN 131) and non-heritage streams (CHIN 241, 243) in the 2023-2024 academic year.
What do you want students to gain out of your courses?
When guiding students through their linguistic journey, I always attract students’ attention to one specific study goal: to gain intercultural competence. Language is only the tip of the iceberg of a culture and underneath hides its values, attitudes, history, geography, and religion. In the current globalized communities, it’s fundamental for students to have intercultural awareness and knowledge of communicating efficiently and appropriately with people from diverse cultural backgrounds. What will students remember years after taking my courses, especially if they don’t use the language afterwards? I hope students’ key takeaway is at least a sense of intercultural awareness. This awareness not only enriches their personal growth but also promotes empathy, tolerance, and harmonious coexistence in an increasingly interconnected world.
What are some other interests you enjoy pursuing outside of your work?
I have a deep passion for traveling and cooking, finding joy in exploring new places and flavors. Additionally, sports play a significant role in my life, with basketball, tennis, ski, and yoga being my favorites. In fact, if teaching were not an option, I would likely pursue a career as a chef or a sports coach, as both fields genuinely resonate with my interests.