Languages Welcomes New Adjunct

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Chinese language program is expanding

The Department of Languages has welcomed a new Adjunct in the Chinese Language:


Zhang-GorkeYongling Zhang-Gorke, Ph.D., teaches Beginning and Intermediate Chinese courses and co-leads a weekly all-levels Chinese culture club at TU. She also volunteers for the University of Oklahoma's Confucius Institute.

When asked for her take on teaching Chinese, Zhang-Gorke highlights the Look, Listen, and Learn (3L) method of language acquisition. "I try to teach Chinese in a real-life context, so that students feel relevant in class," explains Zhang-Gorke. "The goal is to wake up the students' interest in the language so that it becomes a bottom-up learning experience."

For Zhang-Gorke, the academic journey started many years ago and thousands of miles away in Shanghai, China, where the educator grew up and earned a B.A. in History. While in college, Zhang-Gorke spent four years teaching English at what are sometimes called "cramming schools," designed for motivated students to learn foreign languages in an accelerated tempo on the weekends. That is when Zhang-Gorke decided to dedicate herself to teaching full-time.

She received an M.Ed. from the University of Liverpool and worked for a local environmental charity, coaching at-risk teenagers in basic nature-related skills and community-service participation. In yet another bold academic move, she then went to a Ph.D. program in Comparative International Development Education at the University of Minnesota.

In 2010, Zhang-Gorke relocated to Oklahoma, finding herself in a state that leads the nation in Chinese learners per capita and in a city that pulsates with international vibes. "I thought that diversity may be a luxury in Tulsa," says Zhang-Gorke. "But I was pleasantly surprised to see that it is the embraced norm."

"I am also very excited about being a part of the internationalization initiative at the University of Tulsa," smiles Zhang-Gorke. "TU has a small campus, but its architectural beauty is mesmerizing. It makes me think of a well-respected private university in the Twin Cities that I lived close to. Its banners read: 'Our professors know a lot of things that may amaze you, including your name.' I definitely feel the same level of caring and one-on-one attention here at TU," she concludes.

Debra Swafford