Startalk Staff

Dr. Yongfang Zhang, Program Director and Lead Instructor

Dr. Zhang currently works as an assistant professor of Chinese at Wofford College. She is a native of China, and earned her B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature and her first M.A. in Modern Chinese while still in China. After moving to the United States, she earned her second M.A. and her Ph.D. in Chinese Pedagogy from Ohio State University (OSU). She has been teaching Chinese language and culture courses to Chinese learners first in Beijing and then in the U.S. since 1995. Since 2006, she has participated as a trainer in many teacher training programs at both K-12 level and college level in the U.S.A. and China, including OSU’s Alternative Licensure Program for Chinese K-12 teachers, OSU Summer Programs East Asian Concentration (SPEAC) for college level Chinese teachers, and Alliance for Language Learning and Education Exchange (ALLEX) Chinese and Japanese Teacher Training Institute. She has also offered keynote speech and more than ten professional development workshops for K-12 Chinese teachers sponsored by OSU’s K-12 Chinese Flagship Program, The Confucius Institute (CI) at University of Minnesota, University of Maryland, CI at University of Akron, and CI at Presbyterian College. Her lectures focus on performance-based instruction, authentic materials use, ACTFL standards, and language testing. She has presented and published her research about performance-based instruction and authentic material use in Chinese language instruction at ACTFL/CLTA conventions, The National Chinese Language Conferences, and Journal of Chinese Language Teachers Association. She is an ACTFL/Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) reviewer and a certified ACTFL OPI tester.

Contact information:
Phone: 864-597-4902
Olin Building 112B
429 North Church Street
Spartanburg, SC 29303

Dr. Patrick McAloon, Deputy Program Director

Patrick McAloon holds a PhD in Chinese language pedagogy from the Ohio State University, focusing on development and assessment of professionally-useful levels of foreign language ability. Having worked in and with China since 1997, he currently divides his time between teaching Chinese at Ohio State and providing educational experiences in the US to Chinese organizations and individuals. He has presented extensively at academic conferences and is the author of the newly published guide to study abroad in China, “Studying in China”. 

Dr. Jing Yan, Instructor  

Dr. Jing Yan received her education in both China and the United States. She was awarded her B.A. degree in Chinese at Peking University in 1997 and M.A. degree in Chinese at Zhongshan University in 2000. She then went to the USA and received her Ph.D. in Chinese linguistics from the Ohio State University in 2008. Before joining the Columbus Academy as Chinese teacher, Dr. Yan taught in many institutions including the Ohio State University and the Capital University. Dr. Yan has published a number of articles and delivered conference presentations in the field of Chinese linguistics and teaching Chinese as second language. In addition to teaching Chinese courses in the Columbus Academy, Dr. Yan organized several educational trips to China with her students. Her students won outstanding prizes and awards in the CLASS National Essay Contests and Chinese Bridge Speech Contest in the past several years. Dr. Yan gained the Ohio Chinese Teaching Professional Service Award in 2013 and the Milt Taylor Grant to Reward & Promote Excellence in Teaching for 2014-2015 school year in Columbus Academy.

Language tutors  

The program will hire eight language tutors to assist students’ application of classroom lessons in conversations at the Chinese Table during the lunch time, and during the one-hour tutorial hour each day (the ratio of language tutor and participants is 1:5). Their other tasks include assisting participants’ learning and participation in the cultural activities and assisting participants’ preparation for Friday Showtime. The tutors need to be fluent in Chinese (a minimum proficiency level at Intermediate Mid in ACTFL OPI testing) and to be knowledgeable about Chinese culture (having prior skills in some cultural activities). They will be recruited from the undergraduate students from China at Wofford College, Chinese major students at Wofford who have completed at least two-years of Chinese learning and received Intermediate Mid or higher level in ACTFL OPI testing (Wofford students normally received Intermediate High/Advanced Low in ACTFL OPI testing), and heritage speakers from local community.

Ms. Kealey O'Conner, Program Coordinator

Ms. Kealey O’Conner is a junior accounting and finance double major at Wofford College. She has taken three semesters of Chinese language and culture classes. Additionally, she has worked as a tutor and an Administrative Assistant for the STARTALK Chinese program since 2013. As a tutor, she designed classroom activities to extend the learning beyond the classroom. As an administrative assistant, she organized the post-program reunion workshops and assisted with pre-program planning. She also attended the STARTALK fall conference to assist with Wofford’s exhibition to share our program with other STARTALK program directors and instructors, which was warmly received.

Travis Trojan, Teaching Assistant

Mr. Travis Trojan will return as our Teaching Assistant. He worked in our 2013 program. When the program is implemented, he will graduate from Wofford College with Chinese and German double majors. He received Advanced Mid in Mandarin Chinese in ACTFL OPIc test. In addition, he is also very active in Chinese culture activities. He participated in Palmetto Chinese Star Contest in South Caroline and won the Palmetto Chinese Star, the first place in both language proficiency and cultural performance at the Advanced Level in 2015, the Future Palmetto Chinese Star award, the second place for both language proficiency and cultural performance at the Beginning Level in 2012 when he was a sophomore, and the second place for language proficiency at the Beginner Level during his freshman year. When he studied abroad in Germany in the spring of 2014, he was invited to participate in the regional and national Chinese Bridge Contest in Germany. He co-founded Chinese Terrier Club, a Chinese cultural club chartered at Wofford, and co-organized Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, Chinese New Year celebrations, and other culture events. Moreover, he has worked as a peer tutor for Wofford’s Chinese program, and a lab assistant in the foreign language lab. As a teaching assistant, Mr. Trojan will provide support to instructors, ensure the order in daily instruction, and coordinate students throughout the days including the supervision of students during travel to and from Greenville. 

Michael Daly, Technology Assistant

Mr. Michael Daly will return as our Technology Assistant. He has received technical training and worked as a tutor in our 2013 program and a Teaching Assistant in 2014 program. When the program starts, he will graduate from Wofford College with Chinese and History majors. As a recipient of the Bonner Scholarship at Wofford College and active member of APO, he spends a large amount of time doing volunteer work mainly at a local non-profit school tutoring elementary school age children in a variety of subjects. He is passionate about Chinese language and culture, and has won 2nd and 3rd places in the language category and 1st in the culture portion at the South Carolina Palmetto Star Chinese Contest. His role is to provide technical support to instructors and students, archive program files, edit and produce a documentary video to promote future STARTALK programs, and offer technical support and video conferencing events during and after the camp.