From the President

December 2000

Source: CLTA Newsletter 24.3. December 2000, p. 3.

The year 2001 is fast approaching, with December the remaining month in the year of transition between millennia. Some of us were old enough to have watched Stanley Kubrick’s movie, 2001: Space Odyssey, when it was shown in 1968. I was then still very much a product of the small, cloistered world of Vancouver’s Chinatown in Canada, where, back here on Earth, well-intentioned educators prohibited immigrant children from using their native language at the elementary school and on the school playground, and where only twenty-one years earlier Chinese Canadians were finally allowed to vote in federal elections and allowed to work in such white-collar professions as law, pharmacy, and accounting. As we moved out of our sequestered communities to the world beyond, we found that not only did we need to study English and French (in bilingual Canada), but we ought also to learn standard (Mandarin) Chinese, and were thus your early ‘heritage’ learners. The idea of learning multiple languages from different language families — Sinitic, Germanic, Romance, and so forth — was taken for granted.

The United States is a multilingual nation inhabited by millions of people who speak more than one language, but it often vacillated in its attitude toward multilingualism during the course of its history that affected policy-making. Today, the importance of multilingualism and international education is recognized and highlighted in the declaration of 13-17 November 2000 as International Education Week, the first ever in U.S. history. As educators and scholars of Chinese in linguistics, literature, and pedagogy, we can look forward to much exciting changes in the 21st century, as we stand poised to enter year 2001 and explore new horizons, meet new challenges, and create new opportunities that will open up.

Some of these new opportunities are already upon us. For example, founder and President of Boston-based Cheng & Tsui Company Jill Cheng has generously established a Cheng & Tsui Professional Development Fund to help language teachers defray their costs of participating in teacher training workshops. Our deepest gratitude to C&T President Jill Cheng for her generosity, as well as for her confidence in our language teaching profession and her support of the teachers educating learners of Chinese in the 21st century.

As the incoming CLTA President, with the responsibility of being “the Association’s chief spokesperson and representative,” as per Article 5 of the CLTA Bylaws (online at <http://clta-us.org/about-clta/clta-by-laws/clta-by-laws-article-v/> [URL updated]), I look forward to serving the Association during my year in office, and to work with fellow Board members as well as elected and appointed officers. My thanks in advance on behalf of the Association to outgoing Executive Director Madeline Chu on helping to make a smooth transition between CLTA headquarters during this month of December 2000.

With new headquarters at U. of Hawaii under new Executive Director Cynthia Ning beginning 1 January 2001, the CLTA Board is planning a number of changes, some of which will be reflected in the revision of the CLTA Bylaws, to be voted upon by the CLTA membership later in the year, and others include dissemination of information on the Association to the general membership. We thank the membership for giving us the opportunity to serve the Association, and look forward to seeing as many of you as can make it to D.C. next year. If you have any questions and/or suggestions during the year, please don’t hesitate to contact me, or any of the other members of the Board of Directors and officers. Happy holiday, and have a great 2001, whether in cyberspace or solidly planted here on planet Earth enjoying the sights, smells, and sounds of the physical world around us!

Marjorie K.M. Chan
5 December 2000