The UVA STARTALK teacher academy is by far the best teacher training program I have ever attended. It was well planned and organized by Dr. Tseng, Teacher Lee, and the two program assistants. For me, it was not just a professional development program; it was an intensive teacher training course.
There were so many things that made this program unique. The first, this academy really enhanced my teaching competence. The topics on the current language teaching approaches and methods made me realized that the methods I have used in the past were all out of date. I need to design more task-based activities to make the language learning meaningful and effective.
Second, the practicum was so powerful. Even though it was extremely time consuming, I learned so much from my own teaching experiences and from observing other teachers' teaching. Before the program, I was never a believer on total immersion. After the practicum, I truly believed that it was possible to teach by only using the target language, even to the novice learners.
Lastly, all the staff members and teacher participants in this academy were so nice. Everyone was so easy to get along with. We worked as a team and we shared our teaching experiences all the time which made me feel that I was not alone on the mission of promoting Chinese language and culture.