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Chinese Flagship Program

Last modified: Thursday, August 22, 2013

Yea-Fen Chen returns to IU Bloomington to lead its Chinese Flagship Program

Aug. 22, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Yea-Fen Chen, executive director of the U.S. Chinese Language Teachers Association and coordinator of the Chinese Language Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has returned to Indiana University to direct its Chinese Flagship Program.

Chen, who also directed UW-M's Asian Studies Certificate Program, earned a doctorate in language education and a Master of Arts in applied linguistics from IU. She also taught Chinese from 1989 to 1994 while pursuing her studies at IU.

She is the co-author of several Chinese language textbooks and has been an Advanced Placement Chinese course and exam consultant for the College Board since 2006.

The IU Center for Chinese Language Pedagogy, part of the new School of Global and International Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, was selected in 2008 as a site for the Language Flagship, an initiative of the National Security Education Program within the U.S. Department of Defense.

While the national Language Flagship program teaches undergraduate students how to achieve professional-level language proficiency, the IU program also provides graduate-level courses.

"Chinese is one of the fastest-growing academic subjects in Indiana high schools. More jobs than ever before are requiring Chinese language skills," said David Zaret, IU vice president for international affairs. "The Chinese Language Flagship program's emphasis on preparing students to communicate and work in China meets a strategic objective of the university to ensure that students are ready for the increasingly global work environment.

"The demand for the Chinese Flagship's services is steadily increasing, and I am delighted that the program will have at its helm someone with Dr. Chen's breadth of interest and experience in Chinese language pedagogy."

Chen said the IU Chinese Flagship does more than simply help students to learn a language; it prepares them "to become a global professional." Their goal will be to attain a "superior level" of fluency, learn how to speaking "beautifully" and use cultural references appropriately. Even many Chinese-Americans do not reach that level, she said.

"I've been teaching Chinese since 1989, and I've seen a lot of students, and very few have reached that goal," said the native of Taiwan. "I came here because of the Flagship Program and the goals it sets for students."

The intensive language-learning program is designed for students who are studying other disciplines to enter a professional career, such as business, public affairs or journalism. It includes outside classroom support, such as tutoring, as well as study abroad programs. During their capstone year, they will take courses in their field of study with other Chinese students and work at an internship in China.

For Chen, another factor in her decision to return to IU was the School of Global and International Studies.

"I first came to IU as an international student. I am coming back to help with the university's continuing drive to build on its history of international engagement," she said. "Before, I was a receiver; now I want to be a giver."

"We are delighted to welcome Dr. Chen back to IU as a faculty member in the new School of Global and International Studies," said Larry Singell, executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Her leading-edge pedagogical skills and expertise in running and managing language programs make her an ideal choice to administer one of the top Chinese programs in the country. Chen's focus on instructional innovation will mean that our students have access to the latest and best approaches to Chinese language learning -- a strategic advantage as they prepare for international careers."

Chen is co-author of "Chaoyue: Advancing in Chinese: A Textbook for Intermediate to Preadvanced Students," "Integrated Chinese Level 1," "Crossing Paths: Living and Learning in China" and "Shifting Tides: Culture in Contemporary in China." She also co-edited "Reflecting Upon the Future of Chinese Language Pedagogy" and "Perspectives on Chinese Language and Culture."

She served as the executive director of the Calligraphy Education Group Advisory Board from 2004 to 2008 and is a certified American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages tester.

In addition to Chinese language courses, she has taught courses on business Chinese, Chinese calligraphy, Chinese film, Chinese culture, foreign language pedagogy, foreign language learning strategies and studies on heritage language learners. Her research interests include foreign language pedagogy, foreign language learning strategies, second language acquisition, heritage language learners, technology assisted learning/teaching and distance learning/teaching.