As the Chinese proverb goes, “活到老, 学到老” (One is never too old to learn), Mindy is constantly learning to make experiences fun and meaningful to help children develop an interest and genuine lifelong love for the Mandarin language. Passionate about children and the Mandarin language, Mindy Koh, Mandarin Teacher at Middleton International School Tampines, set her mind on becoming an educator from a young age. She shares her journey to inspire children and encourage others to discover the joy of the language and Chinese culture.
1. Tell us more about yourself!
I started as an IGCSE Chinese teacher. Currently, I am a Grade 8 Homeroom Teacher, and I teach the Mandarin Language at Middleton Tampines. I hold a Master of Arts (Chinese Studies) from the National University of Singapore and a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Nanyang Technological University – NIE. I have taught in government and international schools across different age levels. Before joining Middleton International School, I held several leadership roles such as Head of Department (Mother Tongue Languages), Level Head (Chinese Language) and Senior Teacher.
In 2010, I was honoured to be awarded the Inspiring Chinese Language Teacher Award at the national level (全国模范华文教师奖), recognising my contribution to helping my students learn Mandarin effectively and affirming my ability as an inspiring, nurturing, passionate and caring educator.
In my free time, I enjoy trying new cuisines with my friends and travelling. Travelling gives me a fantastic opportunity to reflect on my life and gives my mind the time and space to wander and take stock. It also exposes me to new places, people, cultures and experiences, which allows me to develop a valuable broad worldview and gain new perspectives.
2. What inspired you to be an educator?
Since I was young, my only ambition was to be an educator! Educators are important members of society as they shape tomorrow’s youth and influence the nation’s future. Their role goes beyond teaching and has a lifelong impact on students’ lives. The ability to make a positive difference inspired me to be an educator. Furthermore, having a heart for children and a passion for Mandarin makes becoming a Mandarin teacher seem a natural fit for me because it allows me to inspire children to love the language. I also value playing a pivotal role in nurturing and supporting students to develop holistically through a well-balanced learning progression.
Only a teaching career can provide such a unique and rewarding career experience. I have never looked back since I found my calling as a teacher, and even after so many years, my love for teaching continues to grow strongly!
3. Share with us some of the memorable moments in your teaching career at Middleton?
There had been many memorable moments. One of the fond memory I had was when one of my Homeroom students approached me and said, “You are a fantastic teacher.”, “We love you, Miss Mindy.”, “Thank you for being my teacher.”, “Miss Mindy, I really enjoyed your lessons.”. The student’s expression of gratitude and appreciation for me deeply warmed my heart.
Another memorable moment was when another of my Homeroom students knitted a water bottle cover and gifted it to me as a birthday present. I was pleasantly surprised because this student noticed the thermal water bottle I was using and knitted a water bottle cover that fits perfectly! Even the colour matched! The student’s sweet and thoughtful gesture touched me and made me feel valued.
4. What makes Middleton International School special?
Middleton International School, in my opinion, has a valuable culture that embraces diversity, which is one of the key factors that distinguishes itself from others. As an international school, it is critical to develop and promote a culture that embraces diversity, enabling the school community to create a welcoming, inclusive, supportive and purposeful environment for students and staff.
We value the rich, diverse cultural backgrounds our international students bring into the school, each with unique experiences, strengths, cultures and ideas. The diversity allows the exploration and incorporation of individual differences, which in turn enriches our students’ learning. Furthermore, a school culture that embraces diversity encourages open-mindedness and fosters students’ critical thinking skills, cultural awareness, social awareness, respect and empathy. By embracing diversity, everyone in the Middleton family feels included, valued and respected.
5. What is something about you that is not known to some?
I was initially offered to train as an English specialist teacher while undergoing teacher training, but deep down, I knew I wanted to be a Mandarin educator to share my passion and knowledge of the language. Many people often perceive Mandarin as a complex language to master, and I wanted to change this perception to help students recognise and understand the importance of learning the language.
Being proficient in Mandarin is a valuable life skill for students, as mastering more than one language would enable them to navigate better in a globalised world where bilingualism is becoming increasingly important. Hence, I decisively switched to train as a Mandarin specialist educator and have never regretted this decision.