Diane Neubauer

Here is a biography from Diane, a Mandarin Chinese teacher in Chicagoland:

Hi Ben,

I grew up in Ohio and majored in East Asian Studies in college (Wittenberg University, 1995) and had a few jobs and other studies after college. I lived in Yunnan Province, China from 2001-2004. While in China, I took one-on-one classes and then worked with a poverty alleviation organization, including a dab of English teaching and a lot of work with local women who made beautiful, hand-stitched crafts. I met my husband on an extended trip back to the USA in 2003 and we got married in 2004. Besides continuing to learn Chinese I have recently begun gardening, which has been great fun, and raising laying hens. So we enjoy a more countryside type of life.

I’ve been teaching Mandarin Chinese since 2006 or so. I’ve taught adults informally, high school classes before the normal school day, and 5th through 8th grade. I’ve also an after-school Chinese program for kindergarten through 2nd graders which was definitely my least favorite. I am now teaching Mandarin full-time at a preschool-8th grade private school, and in 2012-13 I’ll be teaching exploratory Chinese to 4th and 5th graders, and proficiency Chinese to 6th through 8th graders. The difference is that “proficiency” means they’ve chosen Chinese as their study for 3 years.

I came to learn about TPR many years back in my own language study years. Back in the USA, somehow I heard about the development of TPRS. In 2010 I attended my first conference introducing TPRS (with Katya Paukova, organized by the Wisconsin Chinese Teachers Association). I loved it and began trying to incorporate TPRS ideas into my teaching right away. Over time I’ve had more training and have improved, but still consider myself a beginner. In the 2012-13 school year I’m aiming to make TPRS and CI how I teach Chinese. There is, at least at present, the expectation that I’ll use the textbook Zhen Bang! for 6th through 8th grades. The French and Spanish teachers use EMC Publishing textbooks and the thought is that we seem equally rigorous in our courses if we all have an EMC textbook. So I’m planning to use that as a source of vocabulary, an occasional activity, an explanation of culture, etc. but to teach using CI plus Personalization.

Side note: I spent 6 weeks in the summer of 2012 in Changchun, China, with Intensive Summer Languages Institute (ISLI), a program sponsored by the US State Department. If you’re an American and non-native speaker of Chinese, you might consider applying! It was a great experience and a big boost to my language ability. All expenses were paid by the program. Feel free to contact me for information or just search for ISLI online.

Diane

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2 thoughts on “Diane Neubauer”

  1. Diane, it is so nice to read your bio and know a little more about you. I did the ISLI program, too, but back in summer 2009. I loved Changchun and took loads of photos of the Japanese imperial architecture there. My specialty in grad school was modern Chinese history so studying in Changchun was really a treat.
    So great that you are part of this PLC!

  2. Bonsoir Diane, and most importantly WELCOME. Every time I read about a new person ‘s biography on this blog I can’t stop feeling humbled by the modesty of each and everyone’s accomplishments. My question to you is: where in the Chicagoland area do you raise laying hens!!?? And where do you teach?

    I think you are the 3rd or perhaps 4th person ( David Talone, Tamula , and who else?) from the blog doing our kind of work in this area and that calls for a gathering of our minds.

    I think I have a similar experience as yours when it comes to TPRS. I started flirting with it in 2006 but I wasn’t completely faithful until last year when I was given a student teacher and had to make a decision to become faithful and never regretted it.

    As a matter of fact I am having a good year professionally so far (perhaps I shouldn’t shout it as I may jinks myself and may have to eat my words later). It started off a little hectily because we were on strike for almost two weeks and I felt so alienated not being able to teach after having only been one week in the classroom, but I am now very happy with my kids and finding my rhythm slowly but surely. I have more energy than I ever had, and I am just perfectly happy speaking to my kids on good days 95% of the time in French , and bad days may be 80 % and just enjoying my kids and myself too, every day and every minute. OK I still need to improve on many aspects of this way of teaching, but for once I have stopped feeling guilty about getting my kids to a place of fluency by such and such date. Where s the rush anyway? They are all at different places and on a different schedule so it’s outside of my sphere of influence and I just take in in a Zen kind of way. I am doing what I should do which is to deliver CI as much as I can in a personalized and compelling way ( the compelling part is the most challenging for me b/c I am far away in age from my students and come from a different culture altogether but I am trying). Furthemore, I decided to accept the fact that I only have so many hours of CI with my kids and remaining faithful to the research, I’ ve readjusted both my expectations (not lowered, just changed as I was way too ambitious) and the learning outcomes I have for my students.

    I have also in a brave move purposely refused to give my kids textbooks , because I feel like the the rose in the little prince when she says:

    “Ils peuvent venir, les tigres, avec leurs griffes !” (They can come the tigers with their claws). If I get caught or if the administrators tell me something, I ‘ll put up a fight and ask them to come sit in my classroom and tell me what it is I am doing wrong. So far, no one is bothering me. I am so loud anyway that I think I scare them b/c everyone tells me they can hear me from the end of the hallway.
    I am the only one in my department doing CI (there are 20 of us) but I do not feel so isolated because I read this blog every day and I have Marybeth (MB) to talk to on a daily basis. Plus I will be going to Maine on Wednesday and spending the weekend with MB so I have lots to be thankful for. I am sorry I probably said more than I should have but this is how I felt tonight and that is why this blog is so great. It is a therapeutical and safe place to hide amongst others like us. I want to wish you lots of luck and I hope we can perhaps meet each other at some point and discuss ways to spread this contagious disease in our area.

    Good night Diane and good luck!

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