As assistant professor of Chinese in the department of world languages and literature, Zhengbin Richard Lu, Ed.D., firmly believes that American students cannot compete in a global economy if they lack knowledge about other cultures and languages, especially Chinese.
“In a global era, all cultures are interconnected,” says Dr. Lu, a native of Shandong, Qingdao, China. “Students need to know other languages and cultures to communicate with others. This is especially important because of the unique relationship between countries like China and the United States. Each country has something that compliments the other.”
Using innovative approaches, Dr. Lu, a former Chinese language corporate trainer, now works to ensure that Spelman students possess the tools needed to interact and excel within a global social and professional network.
Dr. Lu arrived at Spelman in fall 2008 to help establish the College’s Chinese Studies program. He previously served as a part-time computer technology instructor while pursuing his doctoral degree in instructional technology at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
Dr. Lu now utilizes digital technology and mixed media to help students master the Chinese language. Using a computer, for example, he shows students how to write Chinese characters, demonstrating the motion and trajectory of each stroke on the screen. “It makes learning more vivid,” he explains. “It also saves labor and time, and makes teaching even more flexible.”
As a supplement to classroom teaching, Dr. Lu pairs students with peers in China as “keypals” to encourage distance learning, and also uses multimedia formats such as audio, text, video and photography to reinforce instruction. He’s even created his own version of “Jeopardy,” which requires students to provide the English translation of Chinese words. Dr. Lu sees the game as another way to engage students. “Chinese is a hard language, but the difficulties can be overcome,” he says.
To strengthen the College’s program, Dr. Lu is looking forward to a study abroad program in China and a Chinese studies minor. In collaboration with the Office of the Provost, he is also organizing the second Associated Colleges of the South Faculty Conference on Chinese studies, Oct. 16-17 in the Living Learning Center II Auditorium. Designed to review ACS Chinese initiatives, the conference will focus on incorporating Chinese studies into the curriculum, and demonstrating and discussing technology application to language teaching and nonlanguage instruction. The conference will also address increasing study abroad programs, opportunities for Chinese studies students, and faculty development and research. — Alicia Lurry