2011 Program Instructors & Administrators

Director and Key Trainer

Dr. Miao-fen Tseng (曾妙芬)

Dr. Tseng is an expert and national leader in second language acquisition and teacher education in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. She served as the acting director of the Chinese language program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Virginia, directed the UVa Shanghai study abroad program, founded the UVa Chinese outreach program, and has served as the director and key trainer of the STARTALK Teacher Program at the University of Virginia since 2008. The Chinese outreach program is the underlying program that shapes the outreach service model and contributes to the granting of the Title VI funding at UVa. In addition to regular duties within the department, she has been involved in a wide spectrum of national and international initiatives, including, but not limited to, a member of the AP Higher Education Advisory Committee at College Board, a College Board consultant in AP Chinese and curriculum advisor for AP Chinese Audit, an OPI certified tester in Mandarin Chinese, and a K-12 Chinese language program evaluator and foreign language program reviewer for ACTFL/NCATE. She has frequently given talks and taught in many workshops, seminars, and summer institutes in AP Chinese and Chinese language pedagogy in the US and abroad. Numerous graduate students and teachers at heritage school and K-16 settings have benefited from her expertise and obtained TCFL certificates or graduate-level credits granted by different universities around the US, China, and Taiwan. With undying passion in Chinese language education, she is also the founder and president of the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Virginia (CLTA-VA), a Board member of the Chinese Language Teachers Association (CLTA) and the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA). Her Intermediate Chinese course was recognized as one of the top ten undergraduate Chinese language courses in a nationwide study of Chinese courses completed by the Educational Policy Improvement Center in Oregon in 2007. She also received the Ron Walton Presentation Prize in 1998 and the Jiede Empirical Research grant in 2005 awarded by the Chinese Language Teachers Association (CLTA). She has published numerous refereed articles in journals on Chinese language teaching and learning and is the author of two books: AP Chinese Language and Culture Teacher's Guide, and Promoting Professionalism in Teaching AP Chinese (推动专业化的AP 中文教学). Her major research interests in Chinese language acquisition and pedagogy lie in proficiency attainment in domestic and study abroad contexts, curriculum development, teacher preparation, and authentic assessments. Aided by the Title VI grant, she has launched a multi-year project on authentic materials and tasks and created an innovative pedagogy, the Modified Task-based Language Teaching (MTBLT) across different proficiency levels.


K-12 Master Teacher and Co-Trainer

Natasha Pierce (明涓)

Natasha Pierce holds an M.A. in World Language Education and serves the field of CFL as board member of the Chinese Language Association of Secondary-elementary Schools (CLASS) and Past President of the Wisconsin Association of Chinese Language Teachers. She has taught Chinese from the novice level up to AP Chinese at Madison Memorial High School in Wisconsin since 1998.  Other recent professional activities include co-authoring a textbook, Chaoyue: Advancing in Chinese (2009, Columbia University Press), and contributing a sample syllabus for the AP Chinese Course Planning Guide. Her primary interests include the use of technology to increase student access to a wealth of native speaker voices and cultural artifacts, and differentiation of instruction.    Having worked with student teachers, aspiring Chinese teachers in a Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction FLAP grant program, and the 2011 UVA Startalk program, she very much enjoys the interchange of ideas and mutual learning that come with studying pedagogy with other teachers.


Guest Teacher Trainer

Dr. Ruth Ferree

After working 22 years as a French teacher in public high schools, Dr. Ruth Ferree returned to graduate school to study brain processes involved in language. She is the faculty and Director of Teacher Education Program of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, teaching courses in second language acquisition, language teaching methods, and language assessment. She is part of a team developing a reliable and valid teacher assessment and development tool using video of real instruction. 


Practicum Facilitator

Naichi Shih (施乃綺)

Naichi Shih participated in the 2010 VSCTA program and was invited back to serve as the practicum facilitator in the 2011 VSCTA. She received her Masters degree in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language at the Middlebury College-Monterey Institute of International Studies joint program in 2008, and has since taught Chinese at Groton School, a grade 8 to 12 private boarding school in Groton, Massachusetts, where she founded the Chinese language program and received the honor of The Murphy Family Chair for Asian Studies in 2010. Prior to Groton, she has two years of experience teaching Chinese in a college setting, beginner and advanced classrooms. Her teaching strength is in using interactive activities and games to promote student learning. In 2011 VSCTA, she facilitated the teacher participants’ preparation for their teaching practicum, assisted them in creating standards-based thematic units and lesson plans, and provided mentoring and coaching throughout the entire program. Additionally, she helped record the program activities with a camera and organized those photos and videos into program slideshows.


Technology Specialist

Leonard Zeng (曾雁羽)

Leonard Zeng participated in the VSCTA program in 2008 and 2010 and was invited to return to the 2011 to serve as a presenter and the technology coordinator. He received his Master's degree in Asian Studies and Computer Science from Seton Hall University.   He has more than eight years of full-time teaching experience in Mandarin Chinese, Math, and Computer in the New Jersey Public Schools and he has New Jersey State standard certificates in teaching Math, Computer Science and Mandarin Chinese. He is a full-time Chinese language teacher in the Sparta School District and a part-time Chinese language instructor of FDU. He was  the technology section editor of “The Essential Chinese Language Teaching Sourcebook” and the Journal of Chinese Teaching and Research in the U.S. 2010. He has conducted various technology workshops in teaching languages, including the 2011 Sparta School District one-day workshop for the World Language Teachers; the 2009, 2010 and 2011 CLTA-GNY conference workshop; and the Beijing Language and Culture University 2011 Summer Chinese Language Teacher workshop.


Guest Teacher Trainer

Helen Small

Helen Small is the specialist for foreign languages at the Virginia Department of Education and, as such, has been responsible for administering all aspects of the Governor's Foreign Language Academies since June 2005. Ms. Small is a member of the National LinguaFolio Task Force and has been involved in the ongoing development and refinement of NCSSFL's LinguaFolio since 2005. She has conducted numerous workshops introducing teachers to TPR/TPRS.