My name is Mengsu Kong. I graduated from University of Pennsylvania in 2015 with a Master's Degree in Education, and majored in Intercultural Communication. I studied Teaching Chinese as a Second Language at East China Normal University in Shanghai, and received my Bachelor's Degree in Arts in 2013. I am a native Mandarin speaker, and hold a certificate of Mandarin Chinese Level 2A.
I have been teaching and tutoring for around 6 years. My teaching experience is extensive, range from children to adults, from beginning level to advanced level. I am familiar with different teaching pedagogy, and are flexible to adapt my teaching to the student's needs. As a highly responsible and experienced Mandarin teacher, I believe that I would provide great help to all my students.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: East China Normal University - Bachelors, Teaching Chinese as a Second Language
Graduate Degree: University of Pennsylvania - Masters, Intercultural Communication
Watch movies, travel and painting
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
The role of a teacher is not to teach a language, but to teach learners. With this belief, my goal as a Chinese instructor is not to merely pass on grammar knowledge, but to help students learn to speak this language as native-like as possible, through organizing learning activities, providing effective instructions, motivating students to learn, and giving corrective feedback. I believe that the language learning process is to receive quality input and make sufficient output with modification progressively, and it might be reciprocal and iterative. First of all, I tend to make full use of materials like textbooks as input, but do not limited to myself to these materials. I believe digesting the given materials is the foundation of for applying this knowledge. I work to engage students to become familiar with the texts in various ways, through checking questions, role-plays, discussions or even reciting passages. I teach grammar and structures by scaffolding, from formulas, modeling and examples to practice, and from easy to hard. Scaffolding is not only for the content of learning, but is also applicable to many aspects like raising questions, designing class activities, giving assignments, etc. As for reading aloud in class, for example, if most students have difficulty to read fluently, I would break down the sentence, and lead reading from word to phrase then to the sentence in order to guarantee the accuracy. I believe it is important to “get it right from the beginning” through the approach of fluency-through-accuracy. Especially for students in beginning level, the most important thing at this stage is the clarity and accuracy of their pronunciation and grammar. Fossilization should be prevented by strict correcting, but it should always be done sensitively and appropriately. In terms of students in more advanced level, I tend to develop their ability of passage output, and encourage them to develop more logical and formal answers through asking open questions, assigning presentations, reports or discussion, etc. When joining the International Relationship class at the Lauder Institute, I gained skills for organizing round-table discussions and would like to incorporate this into my oral class. The discussion requires students to act as different representatives and to facilitate a free and open discussion together, which would greatly involve students in listening and outputting formal language in paragraphs. As a language teacher, a goal for students is to be able to communicate naturally with others in Chinese outside the classroom. I regard language learning not only as a cognitive process, but also as a social, situated and physical process as well. It is a tool for communicating, and needs to be learned within certain contexts. The classroom setting is a safe place with created contexts for students to rehearsal and make mistakes. If I can help my students conduct dialogues authentically and naturally with newly learned knowledge in the class, I am one step closer to succeeding in my goal. To put this into practice, I would give instructions in Chinese (except the first two or three beginning level classes) and speak in a normal speed, to prepare students for understanding others outside the classroom. I would also make the practice psychologically authentic for students through asking meaningful questions. Through teaching oral drill classes for Princeton in Beijing and Columbia Business Chinese program, I believe my skills of “asking students-friendly questions” has been greatly trained and practiced. Thirdly, I want my students to learn some Chinese culture while learning the language. Background knowledge of the target language could help students to act more proper in a real Chinese context. For example, when teaching addressing and blessing words in Chinese culture, I designed an activity for students to choose toasts for people from different hierarchies in a company. It was a successful practice before their internship in Chinese companies. In addition, I think students should also have the awareness of distinguishing formal and informal language. This is more effective through practice like words matching, like “用”with“使用”,“下面这些”and“如下”, rather than only through oral instructions. When working for the Columbia Business Chinese program and the Lauder Institute, I found that some learners’ focus, especially those who are in advanced levels, would be how to make their language more native-like. I will incorporate more culture, social or even business issues into class, through roundtable discussion on recent news for instance, but still base content on language teaching. I will push students to express more accurately, to write more logically and speak more fluently, and thus further improve their language proficiency. Students are at the center of my lesson planning process. I would do my best to create an atmosphere that encourages participation and involvement. I try to enhance students’ motivation and stimulate their learning potentials through various ways like encouraging involvement, affirming their progresses, and on the other hand, putting some progress accountable through quizzes. I adjust my teaching pace and approaches which are gauged to students’ needs and learning ability. Knowing that there is a great deal of individual difference among learners, I am aware of each student’s characteristics and backgrounds. I have individually encouraged non-heritage learners to ask for the meaning of unfamiliar words in a class where most students are Chinese heritages, and this worked well. I care about each students and provide equal learning opportunities, yet prioritize these within benefits of the whole class. In one of my classes in a summer program, I was aware of the subtle competitive relationship between two students. I would “unintentionally” pair them up with other students respectively in dialogue practice, and balanced all students’ frequency of answering questions even the two students always both having their hands up. I think student-oriented approach is not to fulfill any requirements from the students, but think for them and tailor teaching for them. College students, compared with teenager learners, are more self-motivated and self-controlled. I thus would push them a little harder by requiring more work out of the classroom. Where possible, I have dictation or a short quiz before each class, and assign writing assignments through the semester, so students can form habits of previewing and reviewing. I continue to learn and strengthen skills related to teaching. I believe I am a strong teacher since I have great passion and am always ready to learn. I started tutoring and teaching six years ago, and dedicated to this field. In these six years, I developed my teaching skills, professional knowledge, patience, flexibility and more importantly, my love for education. I have strived, and will always strive to let students enjoy learning Chinese as I enjoy teaching it.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
1. Introduce myself. Let the student introduce him/herself (in Mandarin if possible) 2. Make a quick survey, including the student's motivation, level, learning experience, native language, the language spoken at home, learning goals, expectations, available time to do assignments, special requirements, etc. 3. Make a learning plan with the student, including schedule, what to do in each session, goals and typical assignments. 4. For beginners, briefly introduce this language; For others, make conversations to better know the student's language level, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar, and meanwhile help the students to warm up and review. 5. Assign homework, such as review, or preview some lessons or vocabulary.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
1. Require the student to preview and review, prepare questions before the class. 2. Assign some challenging homework which requires students to do some research. 3. Ask the student to make his/her own goal and learning objectives, and check them while learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
1. Encourage him/her when they did not do well. 2. Give some rewards. For example, exempt the character writing homework if they get full points on a vocabulary quiz. 3. Include something fun but related to Mandarin to the tutoring, like videos, cultures, etc.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
1. Know exactly what the difficulties or challenges to the students are. 2. Use different ways to explain, and provide sufficient examples. 3. Encourage the student to imitate and make some input. 4. Give feedback, and help the student to make progress.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
If the student is struggling with reading comprehension, he/she is very likely to be tripped by vocabulary. So I will ask the student to learn vocabulary first, and then have more practice on reading.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
1. Make rules, goals, teaching approaches and the student's responsibility clear. 2. Be professional 3. Be nice, and make student like you.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
1. Textbook 2. Workbook and character workbook 3. Handouts, like grammar lists, quizzes, tasks, etc. 4. Videos or recordings