Marlboro College


Hu Haiyan - Asian Languages Fellow

Born in a small town in China’s Yunnan Province, Hu Haiyan began learning English at the age of 12. A high school correspondence with a Japanese pen pal sparked in her an interest to learn Japanese, which eventually became the focus of her study at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou. Haiyan’s love of languages has breadth and depth; she hopes to soon learn French as her third foreign language and has also mastered three Chinese dialects in addition to her own. "I enjoy language learning because what I learn is not only the language itself, but also its people and culture," she says. "I want to know more about this world."

Haiyan’s teaching experience covered three universities in two countries before she came to Marlboro. She has developed an approach to teaching languages that eschews a formal study of rules and focuses on helping students “acquire” a language by speaking it. "In my classroom,” she says, “I am tolerant of students' mistakes. You have to try to speak, even if that means not speaking correctly." To her, teaching language is an art form, “an opportunity to be present at the creation, like a potter at work when the clay begins to breathe."

Haiyan teaches both Japanese and Chinese at Marlboro, using the study of such cultural conventions as Chinese folk songs, fengshui, Japanese tea ceremony and ikebana to immerse her students in Asian languages.

B.A., Zhongshan University, Guangzhou, 1989; MA and Teaching Training Courses, Beijing Foreign Language University, 1994-1995; Marlboro College, 2002-

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