Name: Wenyun Rao
Job: Mandarin teacher
Born: Zhumadian, China
Education: Master's in Chinese-English Translation, Henan University, China
Education has always been my biggest passion. I came to the UK in October 2014 to work for the Confucius Institute. Before that I worked as an English language lecturer in Huanghuai University in China for three years. I consider myself very lucky that I landed in The Queen’s School in Chester.
Teaching for me is doing what I love to do. On a normal school day, I am at work at about 8:40am and get ready for the lessons. We offer Mandarin lessons from reception to Year 12. I mainly work with Year 10, Year 11 and Year 12 for their GCSE and A-Level Mandarin speaking. The girls are incredibly intelligent and hard-working, which has made teaching such a delightful experience.
At lunch time, I usually have origami club or Mandarin conversation club. We made a Valentine’s heart last week at the origami club. The school very generously offers me free lunch and, needless to say, ‘fish and chips Friday’ has always been my favourite.
My work varies in the afternoon. Twice a week I go to primary schools and give them free Mandarin lessons. Different schools ask me to work with different age groups. I adjust my teaching content for the different year groups, but I do think that language teaching should start at a younger age, because the younger minds accept sounds and imitate more quickly. Besides language, I also arrange different Chinese culture activities, like chopsticks competitions, calligraphy, T’ai chi, a zodiac animals running competition and learning about Chinese festivals. For the afternoons I stay at Queen’s, I do all sorts of things, like teaching Year 12 girls fan dancing and how to make Chinese dumplings, or paper cutting for classroom decoration, preparing songs I want to teaching the primary school children, drawing pandas or making cards.
It can be hectic sometimes but I enjoy doing everything, so it has never felt like a chore. I also run an after school club for primary school children who are interested in Mandarin.
We had our Chinese New Year celebration a week last Monday. The children learnt about traditions, practised a song and did their first a dragon dance! We had an amazing time and everyone went home with a red envelope.
I go to karate once or twice a week in the evening. Other nights I enjoy hanging out with friends or quiet nights in and reading. I usually speak to my family and friends in China at the weekend, because the time difference makes it difficult on a work day. I miss them very much especially on Chinese New Year when families are supposed to get together, but my colleagues at Queen’s are ever so lovely. The whole language department took me out for a very nice Chinese meal to celebrate Chinese New Year together. Though all my family are back in China, I have never felt alone in this lovely place.
What do you wear to do your job? Anything smart and professional. We occasionally dress up for charities and special celebrations, like Chinese New Year.
What is the favourite part of your job? Seeing the children grow and how your work has made a positive influence in their lives and knowing that you have made a difference.
What is the least favourite part of your job? We never seem to have enough time for every Chinese culture activity we offer for every school I go to.
What would be your dream job if you weren’t doing what you do now? I’ve always been a teacher and I absolutely love teaching, but I hope maybe someday I can also be a writer.
How do you relax when you are not working? Origami has always been my passion growing up. It keeps my hands busy but my mind relaxed. I go to karate every week, although I am not very good at it, but I keep trying. I also enjoy good food and friends’ company. Sometimes do T’ai chi and yoga to relax as well. I’ve spent every holiday travelling since I got to the UK. Talking to new people in different countries, tasting different food and experiencing different cultures has been fascinating.
What is your favourite film? Cinema Paradiso.
What is your favourite book? Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin.
What is your favourite song? Hong Dou by Faye Wong.
If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you? Maggie Q; she is gorgeous.
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet? I’ve been on Chinese national television briefly for the promotion video they made about the university I used to work in. But never in the UK. As far as I’m concerned, this could be my chance!
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