A Taiwan-born English teacher with The Door, a non-profit youth education organization, has been named one of the New York Times’ annual English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) teacher of the year honorees.
Yang Hsiao-wei (楊筱薇), who has been teaching English to immigrants at The Door in the US for six years, is the first Taiwanese to be honored by the annual awards.
Now in its fourth year, the awards were created to recognize and honor ESOL teachers who provide instruction to adult students in New York City.
The New York Times is scheduled to formally announce the winner of the 2010 ESOL Teacher of the Year Award and other honorees later this month.
Yang said she was delighted to learn of her selection as one of the honorees.
“I’m happy that my efforts have received recognition,” Yang said in an interview.
Recalling her years at Taipei’s Jinou Vocational High School of Commerce (金甌商職), Yang said she developed a great interest in English and spent almost all her nights at a cram school studying.
Yang said she developed many “magic shortcuts” to memorize vocabulary quickly, such as using diagrams to show the connection between words or phrases.
These schematic drawings later became her trademark in her English teaching career.
Further study in the UK helped expand her education horizons, Yang said.
As many new immigrants start out by working in restaurants, Yang said she uses food ingredients, tableware and kitchenware as her teaching materials.
This way, students learn vocabulary that they need most, Yang said.
As those words are used in their daily work, they can understand and memorize them more easily, she said.
Yang also asks students to provide unique recipes from their homeland and then cooks the dishes in the classroom.
In the process, she introduces ingredients and cooking methods in English to bring the vocabulary to life.
Unlike students in compulsory or orthodox education, Yang said adult immigrant students studying English bring with them professional skills and knowledge to the US and have their own visions about their future.
As such, she focuses on vocabulary and knowledge in certain special fields when arranging her teaching texts and materials.
The rewards, she said, can be exemplified by her delight when seeing one of her students, who worked in a Japanese sushi eatery, issuing instructions in English.
“I took great pleasure and comfort when I saw my student direct her apprentices in English,” Yang said proudly.
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