chapter  9.2
9 Pages

Accidental Sinologue

WithTimothy Light

This chapter represents the generation of Chinese-language teachers which have done the authors' work in the midst of three revolutions. First, the development of US-China relations from mutual hostility and vituperation to a now ingrained partnership that grows ever deeper, though still marked by misunderstandings. Second, the development of linguistic theory and foreign-language teaching from a surface and behavioral focus to understanding that the operations of all languages reveal the authors' cognitive capacities and limitations and successful language pedagogy requires adaptation to those realities. Third, a transformation from very few Americans studying Chinese and accessing a standard-Chinese environment only in Taiwan, to a much large number of students who have regular access to Mainland China and its many excellent academic institutions. The chapter describes the journey of one teacher who entered the profession quite unintentionally and whose career was defined by his ongoing attempt to learn the language himself.