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Chinese students, director audit deaf classes

March 7, 2007

Mark Sterkel|Odessa American

Speech therapist Janice Crawford, right, works with some of her students Monday at San Jacinto Elementary as Zhou Jing and Spring Wang from China observe. Jing is the director of the Yang Yang Deaf School in Chengdu, China, and is visiting to observe how to teach the deaf to speak. Wang is the Chengdu representative of the Heart to Heart International organization that provides health-care opportunities for those in need worldwide.

Pair travels 30 hours by plane to see how deaf kids in America learn


Chinese deaf students Lan Shuang and Zhao Rui traveled more than 30 hours by plane to gain perspective on how deaf children in America learn to speak English.
Lan, 10, and Zhao, 7, visited and participated in deaf classrooms Monday at San Jacinto Elementary with their school’s director, Zhou Jing, and her interpreter, Spring Wang.
Jing, director of the Yang Yang Deaf School in Chengdu, China, sat in on deaf classes and tutoring at the school to gain insight on how students achieve speaking — that being the main focus of her school.
The group, sponsored by global humanitarian organization Heart to Heart International, was asked to come by Kathy Wolfe, an English teacher in Chengdu, who is friends with Teena Atchley, retired supervisor of the deaf program for Ector County Independent School District.
“I can learn from them,” Jing said through Wang, a Heart to Heart representative in Chengdu.
In a group speech class, Jing and others saw how students are rewarded for their learning efforts, which is different from her country. In China, she said, learning is considered a serious thing and not as casual as in the United States.
Jing said that using a microphone for audible teaching and stickers as rewards were different.
“That’s a way to motivate them to study,” Jing said, adding she may implement it at her school.
In addition to San Jacinto, the group also visited Ector Junior High, Odessa High and Carver Early Education Center.
Heart to Heart works to provide medical physician training and assist in medical education in 100 countries.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the organization’s involvement in China, Jeanne Fell, Heart to Heart international programs manager, said.
Fell said that Barbie Moore, Heart to Heart vice president in Oklahoma, invited Lan and Zhao to America, because Lan learned to speak within 18 months and Zhao dances.
The group attended a benefit in Oklahoma before coming to ECISD.
Although the ECISD students in the mainstream and speech classes use sign language, students at Jing’s school do not use sign language.
Instead, each learns to speak by reading lips, Wang said.
Atchley said she hoped the visit helped the group learn techniques, teaching principles and realize the classes include more than speech lessons.
“We want them to know there’s a lot more involved in deaf education,” she said.
Fell said the group’s trip was worth the effort.
“It’s a long way to come, but we felt Teena could really open the doors for deaf education — and she has,” Fell said.