Henny Chen Combines Online and Classroom Teaching

Moreau teacher Henny Chen has used her technology background and Mandarin Chinese language skills to develop online training modules for teachers that help students across the country and around the world. Her Moreau students also benefit from her online videos.

Chen has given presentations about online teaching nationally and internationally since joining the Moreau faculty in 2007. Recently, she was part of a panel discussion and gave an e-Poster presentation on strategies for choosing the best participants for STARTALK’s online teaching certification program at their fall conference in Texas. Chen has been working with STARTALK programs since 2007.

STARTALK is a federally funded program that provides summer world language learning programs for K-12 students as well as professional development programs for world language teachers of eleven critical-need languages in communities across the U.S.

Chen has received training through Stanford University’s IMPACT STARTALK leadership development program. Also, for the past 10 years, she has been the technology coordinator for the University of California, Berkeley’s STARTALK program, where she has developed a blended teaching model (face-to-face and online learning) for the professional development of K-12 Chinese teachers. Additionally, she has designed a totally online teaching model as part of the University of Virginia’s STARTALK program.

“Our goal is for teachers to learn how to teach a critical language such as Chinese or Arabic online, helping to expand opportunities for students to learn a language in a virtual school,” Chen said. “With online learning, we are able to support more schools that may not have a teacher who can teach that language, and students start learning a second language sooner,” she added.

In 2016, she and her colleagues at UC Berkeley received a two-year grant from STARTALK Central to develop four online courses to support credential teachers in a language-specific enrichment program. These courses are taught at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont in the summer, with 12 teachers and up to 30 volunteer students participating.

“These free programs provide an opportunity for Chinese teachers to enhance their lesson design skills with an effective language teaching experience,” Chen said. “Also, K-12 students learn a new language that may not be offered at their school.”

During the school year at Moreau, Chen, who is certified for both writing proficiency testing and oral proficiency interviewing, brings her research to the classroom. Finals include an oral interview with general topics that are personalized to match the student’s personal experiences.

“It is important not only to let students perform what they learned in class, but also to communicate real-life experiences in order to become proficient in a language,” Chen explains.

She also offers “blended and flipped” learning in her classrooms, where students can reach out to her online after school hours for support or her students can watch videos that Chen has produced. Students are able to control the time and place of their learning. “Flipped” instruction reverses the traditional learning environment by moving activities, including those that traditionally have been considered homework, into the classroom.

“While most of our learning is face-to-face, online learning provides an opportunity for my students to review something they may not understand,” she said.

In addition to her work with STARTALK, Chen is the co-founder of the Chinese Language Digital Teaching Association and has been a guest speaker for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). In November at the ACTFL conference, she will present her research on strategies to guide students’ reading skills in the classroom.

Visit Chen’s website at: https://moreauchinese.weebly.com/