Tribute and lessons learned from a great teacher
I am honored to be able to contribute a few words in tribute to the career of Prof. C. P. Sobelman, who has tirelessly engaged in the teaching of Chinese language for half a century. In the summer of 1966 as an eighteen-year-old college student, I had the privilege of studying intensive second-year Chinese with Zhāng Lǎoshī (as she was known then). I remember her as a young, vivacious instructor with a beautiful Beijing accent. Although New York was hot and humid and not nearly as air-conditioned as today, our classes were always brisk and stimulating: truly, it was “like sitting in a spring breeze.” Columbia, then as now, was in the forefront of Chinese language teaching, and this was the era when both government and private foundations began to energetically promote Asian studies and especially such critical languages as Chinese. Prof. Sobelman was in at the beginning of this new wave of language instruction and through the years has played an important role in developing many of the more sophisticated methods and materials that we have today.