Non-native speaker | Teachers College Columbia University

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Non-native speaker

When Roy Sheldon returned to the United States after an 11-year stint in China as an executive for a multinational company, he was surprised by the lack of awareness of Asian culture, history and influence—especially China’s growing prominence. “China will be the leading economy well before 2050,” Sheldon says. “Our students and businesspeople need to understand its history and be able to communicate in Chinese.”

After working with business leaders and local schools to advance those aims, Sheldon enrolled first in Columbia’s Master of Regional Studies (East Asia) program and then, in 2008, in TC’s TCSOL certificate program. Today, teaching Chinese language and history to middle-schoolers at Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York, Sheldon says both experiences served him well.

“As a non-native speaker, I know what the opportunities and challenges are for second language students.  The TCSOL curriculum provided me with the tools necessary to articulate these to the students and to implement tasks and authentic language situations to enhance their learning experience,” he says. The ultimate payoff: “If you understand the language, you can get a deeper understanding of what the culture is all about and have the ability work more effectively and collaboratively with your counterparts outside of the United States, no matter what career is chosen by the student.”

Published Wednesday, May. 11, 2011