From Translator To Teacher


During the summer, Chinese language teacher Zhenzi Li moved from teaching in a New York City Department of Education high school to Jericho. She teaches Chinese language and culture in the middle and high schools and visits each elementary school once a week to encourage the younger students to take Chinese as their second language.

Zhenzi Li
(Photos courtesy of JerEcho)

Li studied simultaneous interpretation in China which requires the skills to translate a language at the same time as a person is speaking it. This experience helps Li structure her relationship with the two languages.

After college, she moved to the U.S. by herself and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese from Queens College. Li believes there are many similarities between a translator and a teacher, but she enjoys the process of teaching and sharing traditional Chinese culture with younger generations.

Li established a very strong teaching foundation early in her career. She taught at the Chinese Cultural Association of Long Island for two years and Tzu Chi Academy for more than five years, where she learned to read and write Chinese in the traditional form.

Li feels being able to explain Chinese characters in both the traditional and simplified forms helps students understand more easily and benefits her teaching. She said, “Most people today know how to speak Mandarin, but knowing how to write Chinese is very important.”

Zhenzi Li teaching her students.

Li recognizes that learning a new language takes time and everyone moves at their own pace. Curriculum Associate for World Language Dr. Lionel Chan said, “A good language teacher is encouraging and helps students realize that language learning is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight. Ms. Li demonstrated a very strong class presentation and I think it will benefit our students.”

Li appreciates how seriously Jericho students approach their studies. Her Chinese 4 students excelled at learning the cardinal directions.

Li is very impressed with her students’ work ethic. She said, “The students here at Jericho study very hard. They really know what they are reaching for.”

Li’s students appreciate her academic rigor. Junior Minxin W. said, “Ms. Li doesn’t miss any small details while grading and looking at my work.”

Out of school, Li has several hobbies such as camping, skydiving, yoga and spending time with her dog Baobao and cat Babe. Li travels to China every year and brings back souvenirs for her students. “I usually bring back bookmarks and chopsticks with special designs,” Li said.

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