Staff Spotlight: Sophie Zhang

Head teacher at Konall Culture Exchange


Sophie Zhang is the head teacher at Konall Culture Exchange. She has been teaching at KCE for the last seven years and strives to keep her class fun, flexible and professional.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the Konall Culture Exchange team.

My most proud memory involves a female student who came from Singapore. When she first arrived she could only speak very basic Chinese. After several months study at KCE, she said she had to go back to her own country and told us that she would be taking the HSK exam in Singapore.

After a few months, I got an email from her expressing thanks to KCE. What's more, she had attached her scores from HSK exams 4-6. She appreciated KCE team’s encouragement and help, which helped her pass all the exams smoothly, and also appreciated that the KCE team made her feel at home.

That moment made me feel honored to be a teacher at KCE. Students and the KCE team trust each other and are friends with one other. Our students are amazing, we are proud of them, and at the same time I am very proud to be part of the Konall Culture Exchange team.

What was your favorite traveling experience?

My favorite trip was in the winter of 2011, all of the teachers and students of KCE went to Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang province. Harbin is known as “The Ice City” in winter and is covered with white snow. The temperatures can reach -20 to -30 degrees celcius. It's a good place to see the snow and the ice lanterns.

The students and the teachers played “hide and seek” in the ice castle, threw snowballs in the white world, slid down from the high hill, drank beer around the stove, and sat together for warmth in the temperatures as low as -30 celcius. Every scene and every moment is still so fresh in my mind that it seems like it happened yesterday. Most importantly, all of the teachers and the students had a lot of fun. The white snow witnessed our friendship, but also witnessed our youth and dreams, so this trip to the “The Ice City” is a good memory in my life.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Location: The city of Shijiazhuang where we are based is an excellent location for immersion study. There is very little western influence and even fewer foreign residents. Pure Mandarin is spoken on the street and very few locals speak English.

This means you really will be forced to use the language you learn in class on a daily basis when out and about. This kind of practical, daily, 24/7 immersion is the perfect environment for motivated students that want to make fast progress.

Flexibility: One of the many benefits of our program is the flexibility of the schedule. Students are free to choose their own start and end dates and can start at any date and stay for as long as they like.

Our intensive program is private 1-to-1 classes. This type of program is intense and the student will be pushed to learn as much as possible in the time that they are here. They will receive an individually tailored curriculum that addresses their own specific goals.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere here at Konall is very active and relaxed. In class, teachers teach in a professional way and students work very hard. After class, teachers and students are like friends. We often gather together speaking Chinese, traveling, cooking and going to KTV.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

For the seven years since I graduated from university, I have been working at Konall. During this period I’ve changed and improved a lot. Firstly, my teaching ability has improved greatly. We have our own range of teaching models and methods for different students at Konall, and are willing to develop new teaching methods and plans accordingly. This pushes me to keep learning and improving my abilities as a teacher

Secondly, my English has improved a lot. At Konall, although we advocate a Chinese environment and atmosphere, sometimes you’ll also need to communicate in English. So my English is continually improving. What’s more I have gained a lot of knowledge about other countries. The students here come from all over the world.

Every country and every nation has its own unique culture and customs, many of which I have witnessed firsthand, among them I have experienced the open American, romantic French and passionate Brazilian cultures. These are just a number of reasons why I love working at KCE.