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廖冰

北京大学物理系本科毕业。1985年来美后,在德州休斯顿大学物理系获博士,工作后又从新州罗格斯大学获金融、计算机信息系统双重点MBA学位。现于美林金融服务公司(Merrill Lynch)以大型数学模拟等管理科学及运筹学手段辅助战略决策的规划。2001-2002年任华夏普兰斯堡分校家长会会员,极其热心于帮助提高学校学生的中文教育水平。2001年秋在普兰斯堡分校促成第一个"马立平直接认字法"试点班,该班效果显著。
Dr. Bonnie Liao, a two-time marathon finisher and the mother of two, has a very strong passion and dedication to Chinese education for youth.  With the help of a group of friends who share the same vision and commitment and with her endless energy and enthusiasm, she founded the YingHua Language School on May 4, 2002.  She now is its principal and serves on its Board of Trustees.

Common questions and answers

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What is your vision of the school?

Becoming the nation's leading Chinese language school in providing high-quality Chinese language education to children of all cultural backgrounds.

I see our school as a small- to medium-sized, very focused and specialized school. Our focus and commitment are on Chinese language and culture education. We will constantly look for ways to improve the quality of Chinese education for all students.

We have a very strong, committed and supportive Board that will lead us to realize this vision.

Who are your target students and what do you teach?
Our target students are those who have a Chinese-speaking environment at home, i.e., "Heritage Language" learners, as well as those learning Chinese as a second language. We offer two tracks of Chinese courses.

We teach Modern or Simplified Chinese characters and introduce the phonetic system (PinYin) as a tool at the appropriate stage.

Our CHL track teaches Chinese in Chinese (Mandarine) to students 5 years old and up who have basic knowledge of simple grammar and proficiency. For instance, in the very first lesson in the first grade, we use the word "pu2 tao2 (grapes)" in the riddle for "eyes" assuming the students already know what "pu2 tao2" means. Another example is that after learning the characters "good" and "many" separately, the word "hao3-duo1" would appear in the reading material without any explanation of what the word means. We assume the students would know that it means "very many" instead of "good and many."

Our CSL track teaches Chinese in English to students 5 years old and up who can only understand classroom instructions in English. For the 2002/2003 school year, we only offer Beginner classes for the CSL track.

What is the expectation for your students and parents?
Commitment!

I believe the parents and students should explicitly express a certain level of commitment to Chinese language education. Of course, our expectation of time commitment is realistic. We expect students to spend 30 minutes (or less for yonger students) on Chinese homework each day, Monday through Thursday. Then the parents should give the students a review by following the instructions for parents.

We encourage parents to allow students to finish the homework on their own. However, the parents are expected to spend at least 20 minutes per week reviewing and preparing the students for the next class. For younger students, parents may need to spend more time with them on their homework.

What is the age requirement for your students?
The youngest students we will accept are those who will attend Kindergarten in a regular school in Fall 2002. Families with younger students, please contact the HuaXia Plainsboro Chinese School.

We are committed to providing CHL learning opportunities even for students in Grade 6 and above.

Where will you find teachers?
Teachers are of critical importance to our school's success. Several well-known and experienced teachers have already expressed strong interest and commitment to Dr. Ma's teaching methodology. Because our school will operate on Sunday afternoons, it will be possible for us to share good teachers with neighboring schools.

Our basic requirement for our teachers is the willingness to teach effectively. Dr. Ma's methodology includes classroom procedures, exam problems, classroom character cards, and many other references and tools that aim at minimizing the negative impact that comes from disparities in teaching experience and helping the teachers with their workload so that their effort can be more focused.

If you are passionate about teaching and can speak mandarin with little accent, please talk to us about the Teaching Opportunities. We will provide all the necessary training.

How much is your tuition?
The tuition figure has not been finalized, but it will be available once the registration starts on May 18.

It is our belief that keeping the tuition as low as possible should not be our goal. We are committed to providing high-quality education. We need well-trained and committed teachers equipped with proper teaching tools. Our teachers should be paid at a rate comparable to public schools.

Parents are paying a lot more money in karate, art, music, and dancing programs because they are committed. We will decide on a tuition amount that would sustain the school's growth and would not compromise the quality of the education. We will make a genuine effort to keep the tuition affordable and stable. Students with special financial difficulties may apply for financial assistance with proof of hardship and commitment in learning.

All of the school's financial records will be open to the parents.

What time of the week will your school operate and where will it be?
Our school will operate on Sunday afternoons from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Choosing Sunday afternoons is based on the way human memory works. It is advisable that students should review what they have learned within the first 24 hours. Most students don't start with their homework until Monday, but it would still be soon enough if the classes are on Sunday. Doing homework on Monday through Thursday also gives the parents some flexibility in finding time to work with the students. This schedule will also allow us to share good teachers with neighboring schools.

The school will be in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, at or near the Lawrence High School on Princeton Pike, 1-mile south of the intersection with I-95.

Are you going to offer any cultural classes or extra-curricular activities?
At this point, no.

Again, our focus is on our students' Chinese language education. Our students learn about the Chinese culture as part of their language studies. We strongly believe that we should do one thing and do it well, especially for the next several years. That is the direction of our commitment. Based on the experience at a local Japanese language school and the Stanford Chinese School, this focused approach should work and has been proven to be successful.

To that end, we do not offer any classes or activities for the parents. Families with these special interest and needs, please contact the HuaXia Plainsboro Chinese School, which offers a wide-range of choices on Saturday afternoons.

Who are the other Board members?
I am one of the three members of the Board of Trustees. The other two members, Mr. Ken Chiang and Dr. Bob Eng, have had a long history of working with non-profit organizations and volunteering for charitable causes. We met through the Merrill Lynch Asian Employee Network and share the same commitment of giving back to the Chinese community through volunteering our expertise for good causes.

Mr. Chiang was born in the U.S. - an "ABC" (American Board Chinese) himself, who understands the issues and frustrations of our students. He attended the community-based Chinese weekend schools for nine years in the 70's. Then he went to Shanghai in 1981 to study Chinese for one year. Later his career took off in Merrill Lynch partially because of his bilingual abilities. He is now one of the most successful fund managers at Merrill Lynch.

Dr. Eng, also an "ABC" and spent 11 years in Chinese schools as a youth, has a strong academic background in education and is a great administrator with a successful career in various financial firms. Always dreaming of forming his own full-time school someday, Bob has brought with him a wide range of knowledge and expertise from education to administration.

In addition to the Board of Trustees, our Board of Advisors is a showcase of the broad-based support and advice our school has received and will continue to receive from these dedicated individuals.

Are you going to keep your full-time job?
Yes.

Unfortunately most of the weekend heritage schools are run by part-time administrators with little compensation. They are doing it because they love doing it.

Questions from parents of Chinese-speaking students

Why would I want to send my child to your school? What makes your school stand out?
Our only focus is on our students' Chinese education.

Your child only has a few years of the best time to learn Chinese. We are committed to make the best use of these years so that your child's Chinese would surpass the conventional expectation of what a child could learn in a few years. We understand how Chinese-speaking students learn Chinese and their frustrations. We will constantly monitoring your child's progress, listen to your feedback, and make recommendations on how to improve your child's Chinese learning experience.

Why is a new Chinese school needed?
The community needs choices in Chinese schools.

Over the last decade, the Chinese population has been growing at the rate of over 10% each year in the Greater Princeton area. There are currently two successful Chinese schools in this area. One teaches the traditional Chinese characters and the other teaches the simplified Chinese characters. They both offer Chinese language classes, cultural classes, and adult classes and activities for the parents.

However we see the need for a smaller language school focusing on the language education itself. We have seen impressive results in the schools adopting or piloting Dr. Liping Ma's "Direct Character Recognition" methodology to teach simplified characters. We believe the students in this community should have an opportunity to benefit from Dr. Ma's methodology.

Why can't you work with an existing school?
An analogy I could think of is the well-known Montessori pre-schools among the many daycare centers and pre-schools. It's a very different approach. Some people have a strong belief in it, some don't. That's OK. But when you have so many students and parents who have a wide range of interest and commitments in Chinese education, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to pay enough attention to a new methodology to ensure its success. How could you possibly give "equitable treatments" to two methodologies while their needs are so different?

In fact, I did start a pilot class in the first grade in the HuaXia Plainsboro Chinese School in Fall 2001. The results were very satisfactory. However it would be unrealistic to expect the existing school to make the commitment at the level that is necessary to ensure the success of an expanded pilot program. We think it is time to have a new and smaller school focusing on the goal Dr. Ma has envisioned.

What is the potential impact on the Chinese community?
Well we hope the net impact is very positive.

Traditionally people are for "unity" and very sensitive about "splitting-up." We are doing all we can to minimize any negative impact on the Chinese community. We have decided to keep the promotion of our school at a relatively low-profile and have made a great deal of effort to establish our school's identify before the registration date of the other schools to reduce the administrative confusion caused by transferring students. We have good working relationships with the leaders of other schools and so believe we would be understood and welcomed by the majority of the community.

Why did you choose Dr. Ma's methodology?
Because we believe it works.

Dr. Ma has been committed to teaching Chinese language to Chinese-American children for more than 8 years. Her teaching career has lasted over three decades. She is the founder, principal, and teacher of the Stanford Chinese School in California. Over the years she has authored and developed a new set of textbooks implementing her "Direct Character Recognition" methodology, which is now officially used by over 1000 students in four schools nationwide. The textbooks are for students in grades equivalent to our K-9. She is still developing the textbooks that would be suitable for Grades 10-12.

The methodology emphasizes the students' reading and comprehension ability. The textbooks are based on materials that students can relate to and are more likely to attract their interest. At the same time the students can learn a great deal about Chinese culture (values, literature, history, etc.). To that end it teaches and helps the students recognize 1300+ characters in the first four years through systematic repetition both in textbooks and in the form of CD-ROM homework. Pin-Yin (the phonetic system) is only taught as a tool for expanding vocabulary and word-processing in the third grade after students have learned about 700 characters.

What are you going to do to help older students with their transition into Dr. Ma's methodology?
Because we believe it works.

Dr. Ma has been committed to teaching Chinese language to Chinese-American children for more than 8 years. Her teaching career has lasted over three decades. She is the founder, principal, and teacher of the Stanford Chinese School in California. Over the years she has authored and developed a new set of textbooks implementing her "Direct Character Recognition" methodology, which is now officially used by over 1000 students in four schools nationwide. The textbooks are for students in grades equivalent to our K-9. She is still developing the textbooks that would be suitable for Grades 10-12.

The methodology emphasizes the students' reading and comprehension ability. The textbooks are based on materials that students can relate to and are more likely to attract their interest. At the same time the students can learn a great deal about Chinese culture (values, literature, history, etc.). To that end it teaches and helps the students recognize 1300+ characters in the first four years through systematic repetition both in textbooks and in the form of CD-ROM homework. Pin-Yin (the phonetic system) is only taught as a tool for expanding vocabulary and word-processing in the third grade after students have learned about 700 characters.

What is the possibility for non-Mandarin-speaking Chinese children to learn Dr. Ma's textbooks?
Dr. Ma's textbooks provide the foundation of a rather rigorous curriculum for Mandarin-speaking children. It is true that Grade K-1 are the best years to start following Dr. Ma's methodology. We have classes A00 and A01 for true beginners.

For students who have already studied one or two years of Chinese, we have created the B01 class for them. We will start with the compact version of the first-grade material to help the students build a more solid foundation for their future studies. Because of the repetitive nature of the methodology, we believe that the students would do well if they can read at least 80% of the required characters before moving on. The pace of learning will slow down to a more regular pace as the materials become more challenging. We will have experienced teachers monitor and control the pace based on the progress of the majority of the students. Good students who can finish the Summer Study Group in Summer 2002 can move to A04 class.

For students who have already studied three years of Chinese, we have created the B04 class for them. We will start teaching Book 4. Again, we will help students reach about 80% proficiency in reading the required characters before moving them on to more challenging materials. We will have experienced teachers monitor and control the pace based on the progress of the majority of the students.

For students who have already studied four years (or more) of Chinese, we have created the A07 class for them. We will start teaching Book 7. Again, we will help students reach about 80% proficiency in reading the required characters before moving them on to more challenging materials. We will have experienced teachers monitor and control the pace based on the progress of the majority of the students.

For students who have not reached the level of proficiency to be in A07 but are much older than the average age in the "would-be" appropriate lower-level class, we are also committed to help them continue improving their language skills in more creative and innovative ways. We are offering a program that would place these students in the lower-grade classrooms as "little teaching assistants" (LTAs). They are essentially students learning the same materials but with more responsibilities to make them feel special and motivated. These LTAs will help younger students with their word puzzle exercises, help teachers with the oral exam during final examinations, etc. We will make the LTA experience a learning process that is both challenging and fulfilling for these students. Our LTAs may also get homework assignments that are appropriate for their ages. Based on the quality and commitment of our LTAs, I will issue certificates to qualifying LTAs commending their service to the school and their efforts in improving their Chinese language skills. As soon as our students are ready, we will also help organize book clubs and summer camps for advanced reading opportunities.

This is our plan for the 2002/2003 school year, the first year of our school. In the future, any transferred students will be placed to the appropriate classes or given LTA assignments based on the results of a placement test.

We are in the process of exploring new ways of learning Chinese. We will keep our doors open to students of all ages.

Questions from parents of non-Chinese-speaking students

Will parents be allowed to attend classes with our kids together?
Parents can register as students and receive 10% discount on tuition. In this way, parents can attend classes with their kids together.

Currently we do not offer any separate adult classes. Attending classes with the kids is the best way to make the Chinese learning process more enjoyable for both the kids and the parents.

For the parents who would not be able to attend the classes with their kids, they can get involved by following the instructions for facilitating home study using our audio cassettes or CD-ROM discs during the week.

Are cultural activities part of the program?
Yes.

Culture learning is an integral part of language learning. The second half of each session will be more focused on introducing cultural background, customs, traditions, etc. We do not, however, offer separate classes for Chinese painting, dancing, or other specific cultural activities.

How are you going to handle kids of different ages?
Our curriculum is designed with a broad age-range in mind. Any experienced CSL teacher in a weekend school can tell you that the main challenge is to keep a kid interested in learning - not how much you can teach in one sitting - regardless of his/her age. We do not teach too much during each session. However our unique classroom activity and homework design emphasizes on fun and systematic repetition so the students would be able to build on what they have learned and retain what they have learned without feeling being taught too much or too little. In this way, the students can build a solid foundation. It is the feeling of achieving that gives kids of all ages the confidence and interest to continue their further study.

Our homework assignment have extra credits for kids who may want to be challenged, especially the older ones.

Inside the classroom, we encourage older kids to lead more challenging activities to give them a sense of taking bigger responsibilities.

We will constantly monitor each student's learning progress and find solutions as issues come up.

The contents on this page is subject to changes and updates. Come back frequently to get the most current information. Or you may ask the principal questions yourself.