It could be the setup for a sitcom. Drop two teachers from China into American classrooms, comic misunderstandings ensue, cue up the laugh track.
In real life, this scenario is happening right now at Western High School in Davie and at Plantation Middle School.
While there’s plenty of humor, it also turns out to be a fantastic way for the kids to learn Chinese, and for the teachers to learn about the United States. Their worlds have turned upside down, from teaching English in China, to teaching Chinese in America.
“I think the experience is totally different from that in China, because we have got different children,” said Huang Can, who is teaching at Plantation Middle.
“The kids here, they are very motivated, self-disciplined, they are wonderful, they want to learn Chinese,” Liang Min said from her classroom at Western High.
They’re part of a program sponsored by the State Department. It’s sort of a cultural exchange for everyone involved.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity because we get to expand our horizons and she tells us so many things that are super cool about China,” said Lilliana Moran, a junior at Western High.
Exposing kids to Chinese, especially at the middle school age, gives them a chance to learn a language essential to many 21st century career opportunities, said Dr. Sherri Wilson, principal of Plantation Middle School.
“It’s just a phenomenal experience to have someone from the homeland to come and teach about the culture and expose our students, they wouldn’t have gotten that in such an organic way if we didn’t have this program,” Dr. Wilson said.
Already, after just a few weeks of school, preconceptions about the United States and American schools have been shattered.
“I’m surprised, actually, I was expecting some chaos during the classroom,” Liang said, with a smile.
Huang said coming from a homogeneous society in China, South Florida’s melting pot is refreshing.
“The country is full of diversity, so we meet different people, different students from different countries,” Huang said. “It makes me creative, in a different environment.”
For a country known for a great wall, a bridge running through classrooms is a much better option.