Mandarin teacher helps students, spreads positivity


Enjoying Time With His Students • Mr. Jun Shao chuckles while he encourages his Mandarin III students to practice their pronunciation. Shao comes to Marian from China and has become quite popular among his students within his first few months here. Photo by Olivia Sullivan.

Mr. Jun Shao, Mandarin teacher, is not only new to Marian, but to the United States as well. He arrived in Omaha at the beginning of August, just in time for school to start. Omaha has made a positive impression on him. “I think this is a quiet city. It’s beautiful. Not so crowded. It’s a good city,” Shao said. 

Previously, Shao taught English in China. “In the past, I have been working in China teaching English, teaching your language to my students. Now, I would like to have a change and teach my language to you,” Shao said.

Shao teaches Mandarin I, II and III. Marian is in its third year of offering Mandarin through University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Confucius Institute. Although Shao is the third teacher in three years, he does plan to return next year. His United States teaching visa is good for two years. 

“I like teaching. I have been a teacher for about 30 years. I like to be with the students. Here, the American students have really given me a deep impression. They are open and so hardworking. They are involved in so many activities.They like to ask questions, and I enjoy that,” Shao said. Marian has also impressed him. “The school is also quite good. I think the school has its own system to help these girls to grow.” 

Although Mandarin is not known for being an easy language to learn, Shao encourages his students to have a positive outlook. “As I told my students, you never think in the way of what is difficult and what is easy. If you think something is difficult, it is going to be difficult,” Shao said. “Nothing is difficult in learning Mandarin.”

Shao has recently obtained a provisional teaching certificate for the State of Nebraska, but before, other teachers, such as P.E. teacher Mr. B.J. Christiansen, and music teacher Ms. Lauren Morrissey, accompanied him in class for the first semester. 

Dr. Sharon Genoways, who also sat in on one of the Mandarin classes, attests to his optimism in the classroom. “Mr. Shao is so passionate about his teaching and engaging in his delivery that I have actually started to learn Mandarian myself. When I run into troubles, Mr. Shao is always ready to explain the meaning of the characters, and each time he assures me that Mandarin is much easier to learn than English,” Genoways said. 

Freshman Beth Lilleskov, Mandarin I student, said, “Our teacher [Shao] is amazing. On block days, when we finish our work early, he likes to teach us Chinese songs and my classmates and I really enjoy them.” Since Shao is relatively new to American culture, he is learning from his students. “He is a very nice guy and likes to learn about America. We got to teach him what pop tarts and mac and cheese were,” Lilleskov said. 

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