From the President

March 2002

Source: CLTA Newsletter 26.1. March 2002, pp. 3-4. March 2, 2002

We are in a post-9/11 world, in which the United States has been forced to recognize the need to understand the languages and cultures of other nations and peoples. President Bush has shifted the focus of his presidential priorities, and national diplomacy has moved higher on his list. Congress is considering the allocation of additional funding for the study of critical languages, including Chinese, to create an incentive for students to pursue advanced study in these languages. Our responsibilities as Chinese language teachers and researchers are clear. We must prepare our students to understand the Chinese speaking world by building language skills and cultural knowledge, and we must motivate them to continue their studies in our classrooms and beyond.

The presentations at our most recent Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. demonstrated that we are focused on these tasks, and that we are teaching the micro- and macro-level skills necessary for the mastery of language and culture. We continue to stress the accuracy of discrete skills (as was clear, for example, by the lively discussion in the panel devoted to the particle le, as well as in the papers devoted to the acquisition of tones.) We are confronting the unique difficulties involved in Chinese reading and writing. We continue our innovative use of multimedia to enable multi-skills learning. We focus on outcomes and performance based learning. We use the web to broaden the context of language use. We make the language immediate, relevant, and fun for our students through our use of real, “out of textbook” language (as seen, for example, in the paper on liuxing expressions.) Presentations continue at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the Association of Asian Studies in Washington, D.C., where CLTA member and former Board member Professor Jane Parish Yang has organized a roundtable discussion entitled “Asian Languages in the Area Studies Curriculum: Challenges Ahead.” I want to remind you all of the importance of maintaining links to the broader Asian Studies academic community. Please try to attend the AAS conference and Professor Parish’s panel.

The Olympics have concluded their visit to Salt Lake City and we are preparing to move in for our Annual Meeting in November. Dana Bour-gerie, our Program Chair for 2002 and Vice-President of CLTA, is working with his committee to prepare a program which will enable us to share our research and expertise again and to choose the recipient of the Walton Presentation Prize. We look forward to the publication of the papers of our 2001 recipients, Jun Yang of the University of Arizona (the author of the above-mentioned paper on le) and Song Jiang of the University of Hawaii (the author of a fine paper on Chinese word associations), in our Journal. On behalf of you, the CLTA membership, I thank the CLTA Board members for their ongoing participation in the management of this organization. I give special thanks to the officers of the organization who have worked so hard for all of us this year. Professor Marjorie K. M. Chan, the immediate past president, set high standards and clear tasks for the Board. She continues to serve the organization as its Webmaster, maintaining and developing our informative, well-designed web site. Professor Shou-hsin Teng, the Editor of the Journal, has been responsible for the high quality of the journal. He will be stepping down from his position and we are in the process of a search for a new editor. Professor Cynthia Ning, our Executive Director, has demonstrated her professionalism, care, and strong organizational skills in her first year of service. Professor Ted Yao, our Newsletter Editor, continues to produce a high quality, informative newsletter. Professor James Dew is Chair of the Nominating Committee this year and will be presenting a quality slate of candidates for election to office and to the Board for the coming year. Professor Zheng-sheng Zhang chairs our Awards Committee, responsible for selecting recipients of the Walton Award for overall contributions to the field of the Chinese language pedagogy, and the Walton Presentation Prize for the best conference presentation by a first-time presenter. Professor Jianhua Bai is chairing our newest committee, the Finance Committee, which provides oversight for CLTA’s financial operations.

Watch for your CLTA ballots later this spring and don’t forget to vote. Watch for conference information for our annual meeting and take advantage of the early bird registration fees. I look forward to seeing you all in Salt Lake City in November.

Claudia Ross