2020 Lecturer of the Year: Li-jung Lee

Since joining the Department of Asian Studies as a visiting lecturer in 2018, Li-jung Lee has taught a wide variety of non-heritage and heritage Chinese Language courses, but makes her home teaching 100-level non-heritage and lower-level heritage courses. In her short time here, Li-jung’s enthusiasm for teaching and her contributions to both the curriculum and culture of lower-level language courses have made her indispensable to the Chinese Language Program.

With the recent switch to online learning, Li-jung has dedicated hours to studying various YouTubers in order to learn how they grab viewers’ attention and connect with their audiences. She has since created a series of short, informational YouTube videos to help teach her summer intensive, instead of solely relying on the traditional lecture and slides, as a fun personal project. Though it was extra work, the project was a hit with students, who loved the videos, and the learning results seemed to even surpass that of the winter session. As Li-jung believes that a successful pedagogical tool is one that teaches content in a way that truly connects with students, she plans to incorporate this project into future courses as well.

“Even though “student-centered learning” has become a trend in pedagogical textbooks and instructors’ teaching statements, Li-jung is one of very few teachers I have known who truly honor the spirit of such approaches.”

Chinese Language Program Coordinator

Already considered to be an excellent educator and learner by students and peers, Li-jung continually finds new ways to develop her worldview and, as a result, her pedagogy. There is a wealth of cultural diversity at UBC that she had not had a chance to encounter while teaching in the States, and she aptly found ways to incorporate that into her curriculum. Instead of just talking about the familiar Chinese-Canadian or Taiwanese culture, as many of her students do not fit into this category, Li-jung takes care to introduce her students to a variety of culture that reflects the diversity of her classrooms, such as Malaysian Lunar New Year celebrations and Korean gift-giving traditions. She consistently adapts her teaching plan in accordance with student feedback in order to suit it to the actual needs of her students. Her efforts do not go unnoticed.

“Lee Laoshi’s passion for teaching was notable, and was reflected by the class’ enthusiasm to learn… She would ask questions about our cultures and incorporate them into the lesson, which overall made lectures both relatable and interesting.”

an English Language major who took CHIN 143

Li-jung’s proudest accomplishment is the way that she has affected her students on a personal level, having had a myriad of students tell her that they enjoyed her class and developed a love for learning the language over the course of the semester. Her greatest hope is not that students study every grammar point, but that they leave her class with a passion for learning, which is certainly the case.

Time and time again, students have reflected that she is understanding and inviting, creates a supportive learning community, demonstrates a willingness to learn alongside her students, and encourages them to push themselves out of their comfort zones and become lifelong learners. She is always finding ways to apply the new knowledge she picks up from students, in everything ranging from pop culture to her teaching methods. Truly, she already is the example that she strives to become for her students.

“Li-jung Lee does not just teach us, but she also wants to learn from us. She understands that a teacher’s job is just as much about learning as it is about teaching and relaying a lesson… Her enthusiasm for learning about us makes me feel excited to come to class and learn!”

a third-year student who took CHIN 234, the Global Seminar in Taiwan

Not only is she loved as an educator, she is also celebrated in the workplace. Her colleagues routinely describe her as dedicated and an inspiration to those around her. Her involvement with the program is multifaceted; at the base level, she teaches classes and designs curriculum, but she also trains TAs and volunteers for the heritage language classes and occasionally facilitates placement tests. Additionally, she recently co-developed a curriculum for a summer intensive in Taiwan alongside Dr. Hsiang-Ning Wang and fellow instructor Anyi Lee, which students found to be a very rewarding experience.

In all aspects of work, Li-jung’s infectious spirit gives those around her the same love for learning and growing that she possesses. She often goes above and beyond her duty in order to help those in need, demonstrating an amazing teamwork ethic and leaving a lasting impression on her colleagues.

“Her enthusiasm in teaching, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities and even boring administrative tasks brings energy to everybody who works with her.”

Director of the Chinese Language Program

“Lee Laoshi (Teacher Lee) actively goes out of her way to assure that students fully understand everything that she teaches… I can confidently say that, not CHIN 131, but Lee Laoshi taught me how to learn, speak, and understand over and above the very basics of Mandarin Chinese, within 28 days.”

a non-heritage student who took CHIN 131


Written by: Joy Xie 谢钟毓