Meet the Lecturers of the Year in Asian Studies 2022-23

Since September 2014, the Department of Asian Studies has been awarding annual prizes to two Lecturers to recognize and celebrate excellence in teaching in the Lecturer rank. Dr. Sharalyn Orbaugh, Professor and Department Head, announced this year’s two recipients.

Kaori Tanaka

Lecturer in Japanese Language





Since joining the department in 2018, Kaori has been notable for her superb teaching both inside the classroom and in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, and as a role model for professional development.   

One of the key factors in running a large language program is coordination of different sections of the same course level, and Kaori has excelled at this important task. She has brought insights to the coordination of JAPN courses that have led to the enrichment of course content, stronger alignment of assessment and learning outcomes, and strengthening of vertical and horizontal coordination of our courses. In her own classrooms, Kaori is a passionate promoter of learner’s autonomy. Her teaching is student-centered and effective, such as assigning self-guided projects at the beginning of term so that, with her encouragement and guidance, many students are motivated and inspired to set high goals for themselves and to accomplish more than they thought possible as beginner learners of Japanese.   

Outside UBC, Kaori is an active member in the Japanese learning and teaching community across Canada. Not only has she actively participated in conferences and workshops to strengthen her pedagogic practice, but also she was the invited speaker of an online event for Japanese Teachers organized by the Japan Foundation Toronto that aimed at supporting Japanese teachers from high schools, heritage language schools, and universities during the pandemic. She was also part of a team of seven language experts from Canadian universities working on an online animated and interactive resource customized for the popular beginner’s textbook, Genki, to support teachers and students. The project was successfully completed in the summer of 2022, and is currently shared on the publisher’s (Japan Times) Genki online website for open use.   

The Japanese Language Program and the Department of Asian Studies are very lucky to have a dedicated colleague like Kaori. We are delighted to present our Lecturer of the Year award to Kaori for her many accomplishments in the classroom, in the Japanese Language Program and beyond UBC. 

Bin Zheng

Lecturer in Chinese Language and Literature




Bin Zheng joined Asian Studies as a Lecturer in the Chinese Language Program in 2017, having been both a graduate student and a teaching assistant in the department before that. During the past five years, she has achieved an extraordinary level of excellence in both teaching and service.  

 Bin teaches language courses in both heritage and non-heritage streams and also teaches in the advanced content-based courses with a focus on classical Chinese poetry. 

In recent years, she has particularly focused on teaching advanced content-based Chinese language and literature courses, collaborating with her colleagues to create four Canvas template courses for team teaching. Specifically, she designed and offered an innovative blended course design for CHIN 471 and CHIN 473, which offers students more flexibility in learning. In order to expand student learning in classical Chinese poetry, she authored a new course proposal in 2021 for a class on composing Classical Chinese Poetry, which was approved by the department and is now making its way through the upper echelons of the review process, and soon will be available for teaching. 

Bin has also mobilized her poetic talents in service. She has been the soul of a well-beloved annual extracurricular event since 2018, Lantern Festival Poetry Event. With her poetic talents, her devotion to students’ growth, and her superb organization skills, she has made the event a cultural space for students to experience the power and beauty not only of Chinese poetry, but of poetry of all the languages and regions covered in Asian Studies. Hundreds of students turn out each for this event, making it one of the biggest annual celebrations within the department and in the Faculty of Arts. 

The success of a language program is not just determined in the classroom, and Bin has ably provided the kinds of routine but indispensable services that the Chinese Language Program could not survive without. Using her experience in teaching a diverse range of Chinese courses, she is in charge of textbook orders in the Program, responsible for the construction of an effective Chinese language placement system, and management of student placement data. 

We are delighted to present Bin Zheng this Lecturer of the Year award to express our deep gratitude for her multiple contributions to the Chinese language Program and the Department of Asian Studies.