aries wang

We are very excited to announce another fantastic Subject Expert Teacher to our team at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower School! Ms. Aries Wang will be joining our teaching faculty for the 2022-2023 school year as a Mandarin Subject Expert Teacher.

Ms. Wang joins us with a variety of diverse teaching experiences and a passion for encouraging a love of Chinese heritage and culture.

Our Head of School, Ms. Brooklynn Titus, had a chance to meet with Ms. Wang and is excited to help all our new families get to know her!


Congratulations, on being a founding faculty member at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower School! What are you most looking forward to in this new position?

I am filled with honor and excitement being a founding faculty member at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley Lower School. Even though we are a few months away from the first day of school, I have already been visualizing my new journey with our students at BISV. As Mandarin is a compulsory subject for Lower School from Transitional Kindergarten to Grade 4, I am genuinely looking forward to making learning Mandarin an interactive and innovative adventure through curriculum, interdisciplinary projects, and activities. We are going to have so much fun together!

 

Tell us a little bit about your background and why you became a teacher?

I was born and raised in Shanghai, China. When I was little, when preparing for exams in wintertime, I would use bamboo toothpicks as chalk and write on foggy windows as if I had been the teacher. Looking back, that must have been the start of everything!

My choice of becoming a language teacher is strongly influenced by my childhood experiences. As a choir member, I was able to travel to a variety of countries to perform. I was amazed by how diverse this world is and at the same time, was a little sad that most people know such a limited amount about China and Chinese culture. When I entered the Fudan University in Shanghai, China, I chose Chinese Language and Literature to be my major in the hopes that one day, I could share what I am proud of with people around the world. After graduation, I came to the US to pursue my Master of Arts in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) at the University of Rochester. The graduate program I enrolled in seemed to be the opposite of what I had studied in China, however, my higher education experiences allowed me to become a bilingual educator who not only teaches language but also fosters intercultural communication and understanding. In every teaching position I have been in, I am always a “bridge” of connection and communication.

 

You've taught Mandarin to a variety of age ranges in primary and middle school. What past lessons learned are you hoping to bring to the classroom this fall?


Language learning, like any other skill, can be tedious and boring. Everyone starts their language learning journey with a simple motivation. Oftentimes, we kindle the fire of the initial motivation, but forget to keep the flame burning. Ongoing motivation is needed to help continue the journey. “Why do we need to learn Mandarin?” is a question I intermittently hear from students. The reasons behind it should not just be for realistic purposes such as their family or their future careers. I hope, with the vibrant and interdisciplinary Mandarin curriculum at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, I can scaffold our students’ language learning with continued motivation which meet every student’s unique needs. In the end, I want them to enjoy the language because they love Chinese songs, they enjoy reading Chinese stories, they are fans of the Monkey King, or they want to know more about the history and culture.  

 

One unique element of our program is the fact that all of our students take Mandarin from TK - Grade 4. What benefits do you see in teaching Mandarin so young?


It is widely known that the younger someone starts to learn a second language, the easier it is to acquire the language. Research has also shown that younger learners often learn a second language better than older learners in terms of true attainment of the language skills, but the benefits I see in learning Mandarin at an early age are beyond the language per se.

 

Learning Mandarin is not just associated with the language itself, it is about learning a new culture and a new mindset. The moment our students embark on this Mandarin learning journey, they will start to grow into life-long learners who always stay curious and creative. They will become critical thinkers because they will view this world with multicultural perspectives. They will also be confident communicators and problem-solvers. 

 

All classrooms require differentiation, but especially world language classes as students are often at various levels of proficiency. Often even after separating classes into Heritage and Non-Heritage speakers, there is still room for differentiation. What techniques do you use to differentiate instruction in your class?


There are three key differentiated instruction strategies I really enjoy.

 

First, the peer pairs. Pair up or group students based on their strengths and opportunities for growth for tasks during classes. This allows students to use their skills  to teach and help each other, while also learning from each other and making progress on aspects they feel less confident about.

 

Second, activate different senses. Everybody learns differently. Some students could be visual learners whereas other students are audio learners. I love to activate students' different senses in my classroom. When learning Chinese characters, aside from looking, listening, and writing, we can turn characters into paintings using markers, colored pencils, petals, eggshells, vegetables, or anything you can think of. We can also act out the characters as if we were all radicals. By activating our students’ senses, they are engaged in the class and will never feel bored.

 

Last, ask the students. Want to know the hottest trends among students? Ask them! I encourage students to share what they love with me so that I can turn their individual interests into a Mandarin lesson. In each lesson, a certain number of students’ interests are covered. They will also learn more about each other while enjoying the class.

 

You love to incorporate multi-media and pop culture into your classroom. How have you done that in the past, and how are you planning to do that in the future at the new campus?


Films, cartoons, music videos, songs, games, memes, social media posts, picture books, dramas, reality shows, Hanfu, snacks, comics… I love integrating all these into my classroom and tailoring the content in terms of students' age range and interests!

 

Together, students and I have played Animal Crossing in Chinese, sang songs to learn classical Chinese poetry, acted out Chinese characters, and enjoyed snacks together while making analogies between snacks in China and the US. I plan to bring all these fun activities into my classroom. Since BASIS Independent Schools is famous for its joyful learning culture, interdisciplinary projects, and spiraled curriculum structure, I am also looking forward to having the opportunity to collaborate with other Learning Expert Teachers (LETs) and Subject Expert Teachers (SETs) to create more unforgettable learning experiences for our students.

 

Many of your jobs and projects over the past several years have been focused on encouraging the celebration of Chinese Heritage and Culture. Can you share a bit more about how you became passionate about this, and how you plan to bring this to your classroom?


Thanks to my choir experiences as a child, I aspired to be a Chinese culture promoter and eventually majored in Chinese Language and Literature in college. I had always been proud of my Chinese identity and eager to share what I know about China and Chinese culture with everyone.

I came to the U.S. almost nine years ago. I was lost and confused over my first years in the U.S. because I encountered discrimination, and suffered from the biases and stereotypes others placed on me. I struggled hard with how I could Americanize myself so that I might be accepted by the mainstream. At the same time, at the Chinese school I taught, I saw kids refuse to study Mandarin because they thought Mandarin and China were not cool at all. It broke my heart.

Fortunately, despite my struggles, I chose to stay true to who I am. In 2020, when hate crimes against the AAPI community started to surge alongside the outbreak of COVID-19, I read a lot about the history of Chinese Americans, which previously I'd had little knowledge about. The ups and downs that earlier Chinese immigrants experienced after arriving in the U.S. deeply resonated for me. At the same time, I realized that in order for our students to love learning Mandarin, they need to be interested in Chinese culture, cherish the diversity of the world, and specifically for native speakers: be proud of the heritage they carry. Thus, I began to focus on encouraging the celebration of Chinese Heritage and Culture.

My vision of being a teacher who introduces Chinese culture to my American students and celebrates the diversity of global culture has not changed. It has merely been altered and upgraded. This fall, I will keep sharing stories of Chinese Americans, and fostering our students desire to cherish who they are as their unique selves.

 

During the pandemic, you took on a variety of different roles to keep your community connected and learning throughout a difficult time. Can you tell us about some of the unique roles you held, and how you utilized various platforms to connect with your students?

I used to be the host of Mandarin Storytime at the Santa Clara Central Library, Foster City Public Library, and Fremont Main Library. When the pandemic started, all offline programs were terminated and I started to offer virtual live bilingual Storytime via Zoom and pre-recorded Storytime videos on YouTube. Though people were apart, we were still interactively connected through stories.

Besides libraries around the San Francisco Bay Area, my teammates and I were able to collaborate with libraries in other states, including Pennsylvania, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. We brought wonderful bilingual stories, intriguing cultural facts, as well as happiness to kids and families nationwide. Despite the pandemic, our bilingual story videos were welcomed by families who are into learning the Chinese language and about Chinese culture. We introduced a series of Chinese festivals, celebrated the Lunar New Year together, tried out flavorful Chinese dishes, and had virtual Thanksgiving parties in Mandarin and English.

 

You have many unique hobbies outside of school, ranging from vocal performing to animation. Can you tell us a little more about yourself and your hobbies outside the classroom? How do you anticipate being able to incorporate these interests into your work at the new campus?


I love singing. Over the past 25 years, my life has been closely associated with choir and vocal performing. Even now, I am still taking private voice lessons with my coach.

Sometimes on weekends, I will relax and watch anime, TV series, movies, and documentaries. I enjoy discovering cultural elements and details hidden in the scenes.

I go to Hakone Garden in Saratoga nearly every week for Japanese Tea Ceremony classes. The ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha allows me to find inner peace, and stay focused on finding the Zen inside both my mind and my heart.

I recently have become a beginning snowboarder who is having a hard time learning how to change edges. My rule of thumb, at least up to this point, is to be comfortable with the speed and never be afraid of tumbling down.

I look forward to bringing my hobbies into work and sharing them with my colleagues as well as our students. I have used songs to teach diction and vocabulary. I have used anime to break the ice and build rapport with my students. I sincerely hope that by sharing what I enjoy and love, we will be able to build a joyful, caring community full of laughter.  

 

Finally, what is your goal for each of your students?

Through every subject that my students learn and every project that they participate in, I hope they will grow to become life-long learners who always view this world with curiosity, humbleness, and an open mind.

 

 

If you have any questions, please reach out to the Admissions Team at (408) 291-0907 or email us at sv.admissions@basisindependent.com.


BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is a TK - Grade 12 private school, providing students an internationally benchmarked liberal arts and sciences curriculum, with advanced STEM offerings. Considering joining the Bobcat communityJoin our interest list by clicking here to receive admissions updates for fall 2022 and more.