Gatepost Interview: Cheng-Fu Chen, Assistant Professor of Modern Languages

Please provide a brief summary of your resume and educational background.

I went to school in Taiwan, where I studied linguistics at the National Taiwan University. Then, in 2001, I came to the states and studied at University of Texas in Austin, and I studied linguistics there too. After that, I worked at the Defense Languages Institute in Monterey, California. Then starting this semester, I teach here.


What courses do you teach here?

I am now teaching three language courses: Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced Chinese.


What motivated you to become a professor?

I love teaching. I do both teaching and advising, and I think they are both two important components for me as a teacher. There is a famous saying from a history teacher in Chinese that says, “Teachers should be able to lead the way, give instruction and resolve doubts.”


Do you have any hobbies?

I love movies like science fiction, fantasy movies, “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars,” but I also like hiking and biking.


What are your research Interests?

My research interests include advance language instruction, and I am also working on linguistic issues like semantics and semantics interface.


Are you currently working on any projects?

For the next year, I am applying for a grant to do field work back in Taiwan. It is about indigenous languages in Taiwan.


What was your favorite course in college?

I would say field work, because it gets you to interact with very different people. You get to know how people live and how people talk. You get the experience.


What would your students be surprised to know about you?

Students might think that I am serious and strict, but once you get to know me better, I’m not like that. I don’t act like how I look. People may be surprised that I’m not that serious.


What class do you think every student should take before graduating college?

I would say because it is a global age that students should take some kind of class involving that. The world is changing, so it is good to broaden their viewpoints. It is good to know about cultures – especially if it will pertain to your career.


How would students best describe you?

I feel like with students, I am hard in class, but I also feel like am a friendly person and easy to get along with.


Do you have any advice for students?

Usually, students go to teachers or advisors just for registration or when they have doubts. I want them to know that when I approach them, I want them to be comfortable. It’s a stressful time, and I want to build up the mood to help make them less nervous. I want them to know that they are being listened to.

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