Dr. Christy Lao

Principal Investigator


Program Director

Dr. Christy Lao is an Associate Professor of Education, Founding Director of the Confucius Institute at SFSU and Principal Investigator and Director of several major federal funded projects. As the founding director of CI at SFSU, Dr. Lao initiated, negotiated, and established the first CI on the West Coast in 2005. Under her direction, CI-SFSU provides programs and services including Chinese teacher training, Chinese curriculum development, Chinese language learning as well as a clearinghouse of Chinese language and cultural materials. Dr. Lao has also directed and taught in the Chinese Bilingual Authorization Program at SFSU.

Previously, she was a faculty member of the Bilingual/Bicultural Program of Teachers College, Columbia University and at Hong Kong Baptist University. For the past 20 years, she has worked with Chinese dual language programs in San Francisco, New York City, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. Dr. Lao has provided professional development in teaching Chinese as a Second Language in the U.S. and in many parts of the world.

Dr. Lao's scholarly specialization is in second language acquisition, bilingual education, and teacher education. Her most recent book is “Comprehensible and Compelling: The Causes and Effects of Free Voluntary Reading”, coauthored with Stephen Krashen and Syying Lee. Dr. Lao is a featured presenter at the National Association of Bilingual Education and at the California Association of Bilingual Education.

Dr. Stephen Krashen


Professor Emeritus at University of Southern California 

Dr. Stephen Krashen is best known for his work in establishing a general theory of second language acquisition, co-founder of the Natural Approach, and the inventor of sheltered subject matter teaching.   

A highly influential and prolific author, linguist, and researcher, Stephen Krashen has published over 550 and more than a dozen scholarly books the fields of literacy, language acquisition, neurolinguistics, and bilingual education and is the most cited scholar in language education (well over 100,000 citations) according to Google Scholar Citations. His books include The Power of Reading, Three Arguments against Whole Language and Why They are Wrong, And Foreign Language Education: The Easy Way, and Condemned Without a Trial: Bogus Arguments Against Bilingual Education. His most recent book is “Comprehensible and Compelling: The Causes and Effects of Free Voluntary Reading”, coauthored with Syying Lee and Christy Lao.   

A global advocate of libraries and the importance of the role of reading in language acquisition, his publications have received numerous awards, including the Mildenberger Award (Modern Language Association), the Pimsleur Award (American Council of Foreign Language Teaching), the Ramon Santiago award (National Association of Bilingual Education) in 2022. In 2005, Dr. Krashen was added to the International Reading Association’s Reading Hall of Fame. He is the 1977 Incline Bench Press Champion of Venice Beach and currently trains at Gold's Gym in Venice, California.

Eunice Chan

Program Curriculum Developer 

Eunice studied English and Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and holds master’s degrees in Communication and Media, Computing (Computer Science) and Information Studies (Librarianship). 

Eunice worked for more than 4 years at television stations, where she was a producer for children’s programs. She was also the winner of the New York Festivals TV & Film Award for a children’s program entitled Just When You Thought You Knew Everything which she produced. 

Prior to her relocation to the United States, Sin Yi worked at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) as Research and Data Services Librarian.  

Eunice is now teaching at Alice Fong Yu Alternative School within a Bilingual Cantonese 6th and 7th Grade Classroom. She was also employed with the San Mateo-Foster City School District as a middle school para educator within a Mandarin language program at Bayside Academy. 

Selena Lu

Program Coordinator 

Graduated from San Francisco State University, Selena holds bachelor degree in Hospitality Administration. 

Worked as a program coordinator, she assisted Dr. Christy Lao to manage the previous STARTALK student program (SF-CLASS) and STARTALK teacher program (San Francisco Institute For Innovative Teaching of Chinese) at SFSU  from 2009 to 2011. 

She has education background and working experiences in China and Canada.

Alistair Crompton

Book Club Lead

Alistair is a British national who learned Mandarin Chinese from his time teaching at an International Baccalaureate (IB) school in Shanghai, China. 

He is currently studying for his Masters in Curriculum and Instruction at San Francisco State University, where he took the bilingual Mandarin Education track with Dr. Christy Lao and completed his teaching credential using Mandarin Chinese. 

Sharon Liu 

Book Club Lead

Born in China, Sharon immigrated to the United States after she finished elementary school. She is a native speaker of both Mandarin and Cantonese.

 She holds bachelor degree in liberal studies with Teacher Emphasis at San Francisco State University (SFSU).  Currently, she is working to achieve the teaching credential from SFSU, and also teaching in Chinese Immersion School (CIS) at DeAvila Elementary School in San Francisco.

Jessie Lin

Research Assistant 

Jessie graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations.


During high school, she assisted Dr. Christy Lao in editing Chinese learning textbooks. After graduating from BU, she worked as a primary school teaching assistant at a bilingual k-12 school in China.


Jessie has a strong interest in education and is currently pursuing her master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Miguel Francesco Carrion


Miguel is a current Photojournalism student at San Francisco State University. His work has been published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, a leading Philippine-based news publication and BBC News. He has also had experience as an assistant cameraman, writer, editor, and on-camera talent, and has helped cover stories that range from lifestyle and events, to protests and politics.


He was awarded the Jossie and Marc Alegre Grant for Photojournalism by the Philippine American Press Club in 2019.


He was nominated for a 2021 Northern California Emmy award for his role as a writer and reporter covering the United People’s State of the Nation Address in San Francisco, CA.

Featured Guest Speakers

Charles Egan 

 Professor of Chinese San Francisco State University


Charles Egan (B.A., Yale; Ph.D., Princeton) is professor of Chinese in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and has also served as director of the SF State Chinese Flagship Program since its founding in 2009. 

He has published extensively on the evolution of Chinese classical poetic genres and is a frequent translator. His book, Clouds Thick, Whereabouts Unknown: Poems by Zen Monks of China (Columbia University Press), was awarded the 2011 Lucien Stryk Prize in Asian Translation by the American Literary Translators Association. Currently he is preparing a new anthology of inscriptions and poetry from or about the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay. 

Zhiyuan Hu 

 Chinese Children's Literature Researcher


Graduated from Zhejiang Normal University, Zhiyuan Hu (胡志遠) holds bachelor's degree in Chinese language and literature, and master's degree from Hebei University with a major in education. 

He was once rated as one of the best teachers in Baoding City (2011), outstanding young expert in social science research in Baoding City (2013), a member of Shandong Province Writers Association, and was rated as one of the “Top Ten People who Promote Reading in 2010” by China Education News.  He participated in a university teaching reform project and won the second prize of Fujian Teaching Achievement Award in 2018.

Served as a columnist in magazines such as "Fairy Tale Kingdom" and "Young Writer" , he wrote critical articles on children's literature for many years. He hosted and participated in a number of provincial-level projects including "Research on the Development and Application of Educational Resources of Traditional Nursery Rhymes in Kindergartens", "Research on the Application of Picture Books in Early Reading in Kindergartens", etc.

He is currently a third-year doctoral student majoring in pre-school education at the South Ural State Normal University of Humanities, Russia. The doctoral research topic is "Teaching Russian Preschool Children to Learn Chinese in the Way of Children's Literature"; at the same time, he has been a Chinese language lecturer in the university for more than two years.

Ziv Kan

 Department Head of Yew Chung International School

(Hong Kong SAR)

With 15 years as an educator in teaching Chinese as a second language, Ziv is familiar with many education systems. From GCSE, IGCSE, GCE AS/A Level, IB, and even the HKCEE. Under his leadership and direction as a department head in YCIS(HK), he and his team have devoted themselves to developing the necessary curriculum and implementing effective pedagogies at work. Outside of his professional career, he has obtained his doctoral degree from The University of Hong Kong. His research centered on the link between music and language acquisition and how he could utilize this to aid students in acquiring specific Chinese grammar points. 

Chris Livaccari

Head of Presidio Knolls School 


Christopher M. Livaccari is the Head of Presidio Knolls School, and an educator, author, and former US diplomat who served in Tokyo and Shanghai as a Vice Consul, Deputy Press Attaché, and as Deputy Director of the Tokyo American Center. He was previously the Senior Advisor for China Learning Initiatives in Asia Society’s Center for Global Education in New York, the Chinese Program Director at Silicon Valley International School in Palo Alto, and a member of the board of trustees of Chinese American International School in San Francisco.

Chris is the author of New Ways of Seeing: How Multilingualism Opens Our Eyes and Trains Our Minds for a Complex World, and co-author of Structures of Mandarin Chinese for Speakers of English I & II, Chinese Language Learning in the Early Grades, and the Chinese for Tomorrow series, among many essays and articles on language, education, and culture. He has been a featured speaker at the Aspen Ideas Festival, has spoken on Chinese language education at the British Museum in London, and was the recipient of the U.S. State Department’s Meritorious Honor Award, citing outstanding speeches written for two U.S. ambassadors to Japan.

As a Foreign Service Officer, Chris supported visits to Asia by two U.S. presidents, two secretaries of state, and multiple congressional delegations. As Director of Education and Chinese Language Initiatives at Asia Society, he created a partnership and exchange network of more than 200 schools across 23 U.S. states and 28 provinces in China that included almost 100,000 students.

He studied modern Chinese, Japanese, Korean, & Russian literature at Columbia University; Classical Chinese, Japanese, Korean, & Sanskrit literature at the University of Chicago; and applied linguistics at New York University. 

Elizabeth Loh 

 Assistant Dean University of Hong Kong

(Hong Kong SAR)

Elizabeth Ka-yee LOH is Assistant Professor, Assistant Dean (Knowledge Exchange) and Programme Director (Double Degree Programmes) at Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong (HKU). Her research interests include Chinese as second/foreign language education, IT-assisted language learning, teacher education, instructional design and practices, and learning motivation. 

She has led a number of large-scale research projects focusing on curriculum development and innovative pedagogies and being granted more than US$12.8M. Over the years, Dr. Loh has worked with over 170 kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and over 10,000 teachers and students.

She has over 70 publications and mobile applications. With the HKU Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities funding, Dr. Loh and her partners established a start-up company to further transform and apply their research findings to advance and promote second language teaching and learning technology.

Joanna Szeto 

 San Francisco Unified School District Teacher


Joanna Szeto has been teaching in the San Francisco Unified School District for 20 years.  She has taught newcomer students for 14 years and now teaches a Cantonese bilingual class. 

 She is a National Board certified teacher in English as a New Language.  She also writes her own Chinese books to use in the classroom. 

Philip Yang

Founder & President of California University-Silicon Valley


Philip Yang, General Master of China Yuan Gong (one of the medical qigong lineages ); founder of California University-Silicon Valley (CUSV)(used to be Nine Star University of Health Sciences) ; General Director of Overseas Chinese Worship Ceremony 2015-2018, Doctor of Oriental Medicine (OMD), Licensed Acupuncturist. (L.Ac).

Dr. Yang received systematic training of Qigong in China. He was trained by his masters and completed a full time Qigong practice (as hermet) in Mount Qingcheng - “ one of China's mystical mountains, has been the birth place of discovery, realization and preservation of the recipes that stimulate the deep potential of the human body for generations. “ (Climbing the Steps to Qingcheng Mountain).

He followed twelve extraordinary Qigong, Gongfu masters and a TCM doctor as a disciple. Through his dedicated practice, he attained superpowers, including clairvoyance, remote diagnosis, remote healing, qigong healing, Qi-acupressure, etc. He applies these philosophies, power and techniques in his clinical practice. He has succeeded in many medical breakthroughs, dealing with many difficult cases.

Dr. Yang has been actively getting involved in community services, and promoting Chinese culture. He is one of the founders of Overseas Chinese Worship Ceremony every March in San Francisco. The goal is promoting and enriching the world’s cultural prosperity. Approximately 2000-3000 people participated in this great cultural event. The event is  reported by major media in Northern California and the world. 

Elizabeth Weise

Award-winning Journalist with USA TODAY 


Elizabeth Weise, author of "A Parent's Guide to Mandarin Immersion", is a mother of two daughters who attend Mandarin immersion schools in San Francisco.

She was on the committee that helped start a Mandarin immersion program in the San Francisco Unified School District in 2005.

She was a founding member of the Mandarin Immersion Parents Council and spent three years on the board of the non-profit it became, the Jinshan Mandarin Education Council. The organization supports Mandarin immersion in San Francisco's public schools.

Weise writes the Mandarin Immersion Parents Council blog at

In her day job, she is an award-winning journalist with USA TODAY covering computer security and Silicon Valley out of the paper's San Francisco bureau.

Yimei Wang

Renowned Chinese Children’s Literature Author 


Yimei Wang (王一梅), Renowned Children’s literature author, Vice President of Suzhou Writer’s Association, Director of Children’s Literature Institute, Suzhou Vocational University; published more than 50 books; won National Outstanding Children’s Literature Award and the National Book Award. 

Weimin Zhang 

Director of Cinematographer and Film Professor 


Weimin Zhang, a track record award winning filmmaker and professional cinematographer. She is one of the China’s Sixth Generation filmmakers graduated from Beijing Film Academy in Cinematography. 

Weimin Zhang has been working on numerous award winning feature films, documentary films, TV drama series in both China and the U.S for over 15 years. The award winning feature films that she worked as director of photographer include: Grandfather Ge, The Homebound Crane and CEO; The TV drama series that she worked as DP including The Opium War and The Legends of 100 Year Old of Chinese Business. Nushu – The Secret Writing of Women in China won the best documentary film at 8th Torino International Women’s Film Festival, Italy in 1999. Her feature documentary film, The House of Spirit won numerous awards in international film festivals. In 2007, The Library of Congress (Asian Division) acquisitioned her interactive multimedia DVD-Rom, “Nushu – The Women’s Secret Writing” for permanent preservation in its collection as a scholarly research project. In 2008, she worked in 2008 Official Olympic documentary feature film, Everlasting Flame: 2008 Beijing Olympic as the U.S. unit director and cinematography, she is now working on her own feature documentary The Last Days of Beijing Hutongs.

Since 2005, she starting teaching film production at Cinema department, Sang Francisco State University. The courses that she has taught are: Cinematography and Lighting; Film Production Workshop; Digital Cinematography; Chinese Documentary Film; Documentary and Social Justice; Visual Anthropology; International Documentary Workshop.