Choua Lee is an experienced teacher of Hmong language, which she has offered at UW-Madison since 2007. She interprets for Hmong-speaking patients at a number of clinics and hospitals in Wisconsin and teaches ESL to adults in the Madison area. As an instructor, she seeks out new ways to incorporate technology into her classes. She has an Associate’s degree in Computer Programming from MATC, a B.A. in Computer Science from Lakeland College, an M.A. in Instructional Technology and Education from Edgewood College, and a TEFL certificate from the Wisconsin English as a Second Language Institute. She received the Center for Educational Opportunity’s Dr. Brenda Pfaehler Award of Excellence in both 2010 and 2013.
An interview with Choua
What classes do you teach? What sparked your interest in this field?
I am currently teaching Hmong Language in all levels, 1st, 2nd and 3rd years. As a half generation immigrant of Hmong descent, I started early on as a child in the refugee camp that one day I wanted to become an educator who can preserve her heritage language and culture. I started off with learning the writing system in the refugee camp and continue to self-study in my adulthood and this is what sparked me in my field.
What are your favorite classes to teach? Why?
I enjoy teaching all my courses, in all levels. Each level course has its own challenges and enjoyment. In a language course, every class has its own challenges, creativities and enjoyments.
What motivates you to do this work?
What motivates me to continue teaching in my fields is my compassion to teach and to preserve Hmong language and culture, where I can pass on to the current heritage and nonheritage generation students and children.
How did you become interested in learning about the world?
As an educator, I want to learn more about the world to increase my knowledge in other areas of study, languages, and programs globally to help my students to be more aware of global issues in other cultures.
How have your students shown interest in learning about other parts of the world?
My students are interested in getting to know the world better and learning about the world’s culture events in the classroom. It helped them to understand the cultures of others, as well as their own culture in comparison.
Why is international, cross-national, or transnational education important?
International, cross-national, or transnational education is important because it connects us to higher education institutions from one country to another country and/or overseas universities.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your work?
I have been teaching Hmong since September 2007 with UW-Madison in the department Asian Languages and Cultures. I also coordinated and taught Hmong language program at the Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute (SEASSI) since 2005, and ongoing now. Besides teaching, I enjoy helping my colleagues find ways to implement technology in their teaching, including the use of audio recording software and video editing software, either offline or online usage. I am committing a significant effort and time to develop Hmong communicative materials for the Hmong language courses, including language assessment tests.
As a language instructor, I constantly look for ways to incorporate real-life situations that allow opportunities for students to interact in the target language in meaningful ways in their proficiency level. I also seek for interactive activities with the target language community, as it provides valuable experience not only in terms of language gain but also in developing deeper socio-cultural understanding.
Over the past years of teaching, my teaching philosophy has always focused on what is best for my students. My goals are for the students to be proficient in the language level they studied as they move onto the next level and into the Hmong communities and/or career fields where they must use Hmong.
I also believe that teaching requires passion. Only a person who is passionately into teaching can continue to teach and bring excitements into the classrooms. Teaching also requires a lot of effort to make new improvements every year in our lessons and to be able to work with students on a daily basis.