Cheng & Tsui Professional Development Fund

Speech delivered by Cheng & Tsui President Jill Cheng 17 November 2000

The following speech was delivered by Cheng & Tsui President Jill Cheng at the 2000 CLTA General Membership Meeting on 17 November 2000. The meeting was chaired by 2000 CLTA President Chuanren Ke.

Thank you very much for your kind introduction, Ke Laoshi. Good evening.

When I originally spoke with Ke Laoshi about awarding some grants, I had expected that he would simply announce a Cheng & Tsui gift at today’s CLTA meeting. But when he asked me to come and say a few words, I frankly panicked. The idea of speaking proper Chinese in front of Chinese-language teachers was simply too intimidating for me. When he reassured me that I can speak in English, I was relieved! I have to confess that I fall into your “heritage learner” category. Although I was born in China, I grew up in Japan and was not fortunate enough to have wonderful teachers like you all are to help me speak Chinese properly. This is one of the reasons I’m such a strong believer in the importane of well-trained teachers and effective language teaching materials. There are, of course, less personal reasons for me to appreciate the extreme importance of language teaching. Without language teachers like you, people of different nations would have more difficulty to communicate and understand one another, and the world would be a less inhabitable place because of it.

When Cheng & Tsui started years ago, the number of universities in the U.S. offering Chinese language courses was still modest. It has been quite a long and hard road for the pioneers in Chinese language teaching to get this field firmly established in the American educational world. I certainly can relate to those struggles, as I began Cheng & Tsui with a few hundred dollars of my hard-earned savings plus a loan of another few hundred dollars from my brother. But it’s been very satisfying and meaningful, because, in the process, I have witnessed the increasingly sophisticated development of the Chinese language field. Without the commitment of all you teachers, such dramatic improvements would not have happened.

Today, therefore, I would like to honor, in a small way, your dedication to Chinese language studies. After consulting with the C&T Editorial Board-Chief Editor Teng Shou-hsin, Dana Bourgerie, Samuel Cheung, Li Ying-che, and Timothy Light-and, of course, Madeline Chu, Executive Director of CLTA, we have decided to provide $1000 annually to fund professional development grants for teachers of the Chinese language.

Teachers of Chinese at all levels-K-12 as well as higher education-are eligible to apply for support from Cheng & Tsui Professional Development Fund to help defray the costs of teacher training workshops. Teachers are urged to leverage additional funding from their schools or other sources to enable them to participate in professional development activities. We have asked the CLTA Grants Committee to disburse the funds each year to a minimum of two teachers. We hope that these grants will be helpful in increasing the pool of excellent teachers for the Chinese language field.

And, finally, I want to thank all of you teachers very much for supporting Cheng & Tsui Company over the years, both as our authors and as our users. We cannot do it without you.