Panthers of ISKL #138: Ivy Qian

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– The Chinese Language Educator

“In my role as a Chinese teacher, I strive to teach my students the language and culture of China, which not only enriches their understanding of the world but also enhances their communication skills. Effective communication is critical to building a better world.”

Here is Ivy’s story:


Do tell us more about yourself.

I was born in a small village about three hours from Shanghai, China. During the Cultural Revolution, my father, originally from Shanghai, was sent to our village to work as a farmer when he was 16.

After graduating from college, I moved to Shanghai, where I lived for 12 years before relocating to Kuala Lumpur. In Shanghai, I worked as an English teacher before transitioning to teaching Chinese as a foreign language. While studying at university, I majored in the English language and subsequently began teaching English upon graduating. I later pursued a master’s degree in teaching Chinese as a second language, focusing my career solely on teaching the Chinese language and culture.

When and why did you join ISKL?

In July 2009, I was thrilled to join ISKL as a Chinese teacher and establish a new Chinese language program for Elementary School (ES). A friend who had worked at ISKL for ten years informed me about the available position and encouraged me to apply, assuring me that I would love the school.

After submitting my application, I traveled to KL for an interview and taught a class. To my delight, the ES principal offered me the job! Joining ISKL was a dream for me, both for my career and my daughter’s education. Shuangshuang, my daughter, started attending ISKL in Grade 1 and graduated in 2021. We firmly believe that ISKL is the best school for her, and she is now studying at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

POISKL Ivy Qian & Family

POISKL Ivy Qian & World Language TeamTell us more about your position as the ES Chinese Teacher in the ES World Languages department. What are your daily activities?

The ES Chinese language program at ISKL has evolved significantly since my arrival.

Initially, we offered Chinese as a foreign language program to Grade 3 to Grade 5 students. After two years, we expanded the program to include Prep Senior, Grade 1, and Grade 2, requiring daily instruction for six grade levels. As student proficiency increased, we needed to establish different language proficiency levels for Grades 3, 4, and 5, leading to the instruction of 12 different language levels across six grades.

Seven years ago, we introduced two new programs: neo-native classes and Chinese mother tongue classes. The mother tongue program, unfortunately, had to be held during after school hours due to scheduling conflicts.

My busy schedule entails planning and teaching an average of 5 or 6 45-minute lessons per day, attending various school meetings, and keeping abreast of professional development by reading pertinent articles. Additionally, I occasionally volunteer for a little bit of translation work.

POISKL Ivy Qian Mooncake day in the ESCan you tell us something you are working on now that you are excited about?

Amid the pandemic, my focus shifted to utilizing technology in online language classes. I continually explored various language-learning apps and online activities to ensure student engagement and language skill development.

Furthermore, some parents and students expressed interest in learning more about Chinese culture. While our current units already incorporate aspects of Chinese culture, I am thrilled to be developing a new weekend program that will allow students to learn the language through cultural immersion.

What is the most challenging part about your job?

Utilizing only the target language in the classroom can pose a challenge, particularly for high-grade students who need help understanding the teacher. This language barrier can impede their learning progress. Additionally, some parents and students have expressed concerns about the difficulty of learning the Chinese language, particularly the complexity of Chinese characters, which can be particularly challenging for students from Latin Romance languages.

As an educator, I aim to make the learning process more engaging and enjoyable for students while finding innovative approaches to make learning Chinese characters more accessible and less daunting.

Can you tell us more about your hobbies and interests? What do you do after work?

In addition to my work, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also my priority. I am passionate about cooking and enjoy creating and consuming wholesome and nutritious meals.

I am also a certified yoga teacher and find practicing yoga to be a refreshing and relaxing activity. I enjoy swimming, playing the piano, and socializing with friends in my free time. Engaging in these various activities helps me maintain a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.

POISKL Ivy Qian CNY Yee Sang TossingWho or what inspires you?

I draw inspiration mostly from my students, who consistently demonstrate a positive attitude toward learning, show great determination to master the language, and exhibit a keen interest in the rich Chinese culture. Their enthusiasm and success in their studies keep me motivated and committed to my job.

I am also grateful for the support and collaboration of my principals, curriculum coordinators, and colleagues, who provide me with the necessary resources and guidance to improve my teaching methods and become more effective in the classroom. Their encouragement and teamwork help me to feel more confident and successful in my work.

Best memory (or most memorable moment) so far working at ISKL?

Over the last 14 years at ISKL, I have created many cherished memories, but one of the most recent ones was working with the Chinese Parent-Teacher Association to celebrate Chinese New Year with students and teachers.

We collaborated to prepare YeeSang, coffee, and CNY snacks to show our appreciation to the teachers and staff in ES. For students, we organized various activities, including lantern-making, zodiac animal paper cutting, fan dance, ribbon dance, shuttlecock kicking, and touching the lucky word “Fu” to receive a lucky coin, to enhance their knowledge of Chinese culture. I am grateful that ISKL is a school that encourages parents’ involvement in different activities, which helps students grow and learn about other cultures.

POISKL Ivy Qian CNY Activity

What does ‘”Know yourself, care for all and create a better world”‘ mean to you?

Self-reflection is an essential practice for me to understand better who I am. As a Chinese teacher, a mother, a daughter, and a wife, I have many responsibilities that require me to understand my values, strengths, and weaknesses to work towards being the best version of myself.

In my role as a Chinese teacher, I strive to teach my students the language and culture of China, which not only enriches their understanding of the world but also enhances their communication skills. Effective communication is critical to building a better world.

As a mother, daughter, and wife, I prioritize taking care of my family and ensuring that they feel loved and supported.


Do you know of any student, teacher, parent, or staff who always have an anecdote to tell, love to share some insights into their passions and interest, or simply is a Panther through and through? Nominate them to be featured in our Panthers of ISKL stories by sending in your submissions here.

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Communication Updates

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