Ye “Dawn” Yuan has been teaching courses at Continuing Studies since January 2011. She has a real passion for teaching and sharing her language and culture. She was born and raised in China, immigrating to Canada in her 30s.
Dawn brings her love of music to the methods she uses in her classes.
“I was a music and language teacher in China. Mandarin is a musical language. When we speak, it is like singing. The same syllable with a different tone (pitch) may have a very different meaning.”
Two of Dawn’s most important influences are the music educators and composers Zoltan Kodály and Carl Orff.
“I’ve been taking teacher training courses in the methods developed by them for use with young children. I find their philosophies fascinating.”
Dawn brings what she learns to her language classes, noting with a smile that the challenge of maintaining the interest and attention of two- to six-year-old children sometimes stretches her as a teacher, but she finds it also helps her to bring energy to her adult classes.
Dawn says she tries to learn new things every day. Cooking is another of her passions, although she prefers not to use recipes. “They limit my creativity,” she says. “My ingredients for teaching Mandarin are something English, something Chinese and something new.”
Over the past few years she has also included Office IT and management courses, English, music education, and traditional Chinese dance classes in her personal learning efforts. She is also learning to sing in English, Italian, German, French and Latin.
A particular source of pride for her is that a student from one of her advanced level classes at Continuing Studies, Elliot Hamilton, won 1st place on Vancouver Island, and 2nd place in BC, in the 2013 BC “Chinese Bridge” Mandarin Singing Contest for (Foreign) College Students. The contest was sponsored by the Education Office of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver.
Dawn stays in touch with friends and relatives in China via social media and recently visited Hainan Island (sometimes referred to as the ”Eastern Hawaii”). While there, she journeyed from one end to the other on its famous, world’s-first island-looping express railway bullet train. Moving at 200 km per hour seems to fit with a person who exudes great commitment to her work and such irrepressible energy, but in a heartbeat the perspective is redrawn as she recommends that everyone should visit Tibet if they have an opportunity.
“When I stood on the roof of the world, the Tibetan Plateau, when my hands could touch the blue sky and white clouds, no words or songs could express my feelings and emotions.”
Find out more about world language courses at Continuing Studies at UVic here.
This article was writen by MJ Turner and first published in the Fall 2016 Calendar.