From The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Tour, Scroll Three: Ji'nan to Mount Tai, Qing dynasty (1644-1911), datable to 1691-98, Wang Hui (Chinese, 1632-1717), and assistants, Handscroll; ink and color on silk; 26 11/16 x 548 1/2 in. (67.8 x 1393.8 cm), Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1979 (1979.5).


Brian A. Williams, Ph.D.

Yvonne Saalman has been an instructor in Mandarin for elementary school students in grades 1 through 4 at St. Elizabeth Parish School in Altadena, for 3 academic periods: Summer 2012, Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. She was hired as an instructor for our after school enrichment program. To be hired for this position, she interviewed with the school principal, Mrs. Jeanette Cardamone, and was required to pass the standard background checks and safety training that are required by the Los Angeles Archdiocese for all adult staff working with children in the Catholic schools.

Mrs. Saalman was recommended to me by one of her clients, Doug Kremer, who is a deacon in our parish [and department Chairperson at Woodbury University]and a parent at St. Elizabeth Parish School, which my daughters attend. I was looking for a Mandarin tutor for my three daughters, ages 10, 7 and 6. An opportunity arose at our school to form a language instruction class during the summer session, so I got involved by organizing a group of parents who were interested, and recommended Mrs. Saalman for the program.

Mr. Kremer’s enthusiastic recommendation came from his experience as an adult student of the language with Mrs. Saalman, and from her work at Woodbury College where they both teach. At the time, we did not know whether her abilities would translate well into the elementary school classroom.

It was apparent from the start that Mrs. Saalman has natural talent with elementary school children. You will first see this when you watch her greet her students outside class, and you observe how they respond to her. Mrs. Saalman has an infectious warmth that seems to bond the students in her class for cooperation and learning. My own daughters responded enthusiastically with big smiles after the first day of class when I asked them how they liked their new teacher.

This first impression has since grown into a warm and respectful friendship; they genuinely miss seeing her during the months that we are not scheduled for instruction. I regularly poll the other parents in the program, and their experience has been the same, for both male students and female students, from 4th grade to 1st grade. Some of the other parents of students in the class have remarked that they appreciate that Mrs. Saalman’s class is well organized, and that she has high expectations of performance from the students. They are all delighted and grateful that their children are learning this valuable skill during the optimal developmental period for language acquisition, from such an accomplished and talented woman.

My children had only minimal verbal exposure to Mandarin from home videos and my clumsy tutoring using the Pimsleur language system, prior to working with Mrs. Saalman. They had not encountered Mandarin characters or the pinyin system of spelling. Naturally, my girls struggled with the first few classes, as Mrs. Saalman patiently guided them through unfamiliar territory, introducing a wide range of useful vocabulary in the spoken language, and teaching them how to write in both pinyin and Mandarin characters. My daughters now have a better ear for intonation, although this will need much more work in the future, and they have a good memory for the vocabulary that Mrs. Saalman has already taught them. I am continually surprised at how easily my youngest daughter can generate Mandarin words from memory unprompted; even many months after the initial instructions.

My 7 year old daughter Rosie has very good fine motor coordination and is a naturally motivated artist. Her renditions of the Mandarin characters that she has been taught are coming with less effort and more fluency, and she regularly teaches her younger sister how to sketch them. My 10 year old daughter Madeline has made the most impressive progress of the three. She is close friends with the top scholar in her class, who is also taking Mrs. Saalman’s Mandarin class. Madeline has improved her ability to organize her material and is beginning to show a more thorough and mature understanding of the links between the vocabulary and ideas that have been taught. I find this all terrifically exciting.

In summary, our first three academic periods with Mrs. Saalman have been a big success for the students in the program. The parents that are involved are all very enthusiastic about continuing during Fall 2013. Along with my gratitude for agreeing to take this new assignment, and my respect for her talents and abilities, Mrs. Saalman has earned my trust and my highest recommendation as a teacher for her work with my children and their classmates. Please contact me at the email address below if I can be of any further assistance.

Brian A. Williams, Ph.D.
Director, Functional Genomics Resource Center
Beckman Institute
California Institute of Technology

Sipan Nazaryan

I am presently a fifth-year student entering my final semester of architecture school at Woodbury University. Throughout my life as a student, I have had the privilege of traveling the world and meeting some incredible people. This past summer I participated in a study abroad program in China, which prompted me to learn the Chinese language. I have since taken Yvonne Saalman’s Chinese language course at Woodbury University.

In only fifteen meetings, Yvonne’s teaching methods have allowed me to read, write, and speak Chinese with a level of comfort and confidence that I did not think plausible in such a short period of time. Yvonne has a unique ability to inspire her students to challenge themselves and strive to achieve more than they initially think they can. She is encouraging, yet difficult to please; no incorrect pronunciation goes unnoticed, as she patiently works with each student to achieve excellence. Yvonne never settles for mediocre or simply satisfactory work. It is this inherent drive to raise the bar that makes her such an inspirational educator.

Apart from being absolutely dedicated in the classroom, Yvonne is more than willing to help her students outside of class. On numerous occasions, I have called or e-mailed Yvonne with questions, and she has always been there with an immediate response.

As a student, it is sometimes easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged by the amount of work that we are asked to produce in all of our classes. However, my experience with Yvonne has taught me to remain persistent and motivated in everything that I do. Her personal story of how she had to leave China with almost nothing and start a life of her own is one that has inspired me greatly. Yvonne opitimizes the true teacher, in that she does not simply teach her students a subject; she teaches them to become better people.


Sipan Nazaryan

Lisa Binder, Esq.

I am delighted to write this letter on behalf of Yvonne Saalman.... I have an A.B. in Classics from Harvard, an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Berkeley, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. I have studied a variety of languages both inside and outside of the university classroom, including Latin, ancient and modern Greek, German, Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin. Yvonne is without question one of the best language teachers I have had.

I was a student in Yvonne's Mandarin class at the Beverly Hills Lingual Institute in 2008 and 2009. In our class we used the Integrated Chinese, Level 2, textbook, and Yvonne's focused and organized instruction was instrumental in helping me acquire the reading, writing, speaking and comprehension skills emphasized in the textbook. Yvonne consistently challenged us to improve our skills while making sure that our questions were answered before we proceeded to the next step in each lesson.

Yvonne's patience and her ability to explain complicated points of grammar and syntax in ways that her students can understand make her an excellent teacher. She is also dedicated to identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each particular student and tailoring the lesson to focus on areas that need improvement. Yvonne often stayed after class to answer questions and to clarify particularly difficult points of grammar for her students.


Lisa Binder, Esq., Harvard Law, April, 2010

Steve Levin

It is with great enthusiasm that I write this letter of recommendation on behalf of Yvonne Saalman. By way of background, I am a Los-Angeles-based attorney and public relations professional who has had the pleasure of taking Mandarin Chinese classes with Yvonne for over two years at the Beverly Hills Lingual Institute.

Quite simply, Yvonne is a talented and dedicated Chinese language instructor who exhibits the highest level of diligence and professionalism. Yvonne has the unique ability to make learning a new language both fun and interesting. Not only does she teach her students the core principles of tone, pronunciation, grammar, and reading and writing Chinese characters, but she also injects her lessons with fascinating stories and jokes about China and Chinese culture. I genuinely enjoy going to class when Yvonne is teaching—so much so that I could not imagine learning from any other teacher.

Yvonne is truly committed to her students. She is eminently patient and tailors her approach to each student according to his or her proficiency. Although her services are clearly in high demand—she teaches at the Institute several nights per week in addition to providing private lessons to multiple clients—she always makes herself available to students both in and out of class to answer questions and provide additional learning resources. I often wonder and am amazed by how she is able to juggle so many roles.

In a relatively short period of time, Yvonne has transformed me from someone who knew not a single Chinese word or character, to someone who is comfortable with basic conversation, reading and writing (although I prefer to write the Chinese characters on the computer). I am often complimented on my Chinese skills and have even been asked by my employer to travel to China to conduct business there. I owe most of my progress and ability to Yvonne and her teaching.


Steven M. Levin

Helena Duey Malchione

It is a sincere pleasure and honor for me to recommend Yvonne Saalman as a teacher of Mandarin. Yvonne has worked privately with me on an intensive study of Mandarin for the past ten months, during which time she has engaged and challenged me in every imaginable way.

Throughout my time studying with Yvonne, I have admired and respected her many valuable qualities. Yvonne’s patience and diligence lend themselves to the constant and rapid improvement of the pupil. She is quick to identify the individual strengths and weaknesses of her students, and she responds aptly with appropriate exercises and commentary to enable the student in question to overcome every lingual obstacle.

I have also greatly admired Yvonne’s genuine dedication to all of her students. She demonstrates this dedication through her flexibility with her schedule, her willingness to work at whatever pace set by the student (however rapid that may be), and her meticulous attention to creating personalized homework assignments for each student.

My difficulty mastering preposition grammatical structures, for example, prompted Yvonne to create a series of translation homework assignments specifically targeting this weakness. I have been truly impressed by Yvonne’s personal investment in my success as a student of Chinese language.

In just ten short months, I have made tremendous improvements in my reading, writing, and speaking skills due to Yvonne’s teaching methods and dedication. Native Chinese speakers have showered me with compliments on my pronunciation, my easy fluency, and my depth of understanding of Chinese culture; I forward every compliment to Yvonne, without whom none of my current skills would exist at the level that they do.

In closing, let me say that I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Yvonne Yang for teaching Chinese language and culture. She would be an asset to any student of Chinese.


Helena Duey Malchione, Yale University, Class of 2012

Teck Jin Lim

I am an English language instructor who graduated from Pitzer College in 2006, with a BA in English and world literature.

I write on behalf of Yvonne Saalman, to recommend and render a testimony to her tutelage in Mandarin. In five months of study with her, I have gone from knowing almost no Mandarin whatsoever to reaching an early-intermediate level in reading, writing and conversation. I credit this to Yvonne for what I feel is an incredible achievement for me, to reach this level in such a short time span, despite a month-long gap in my studies.

Yvonne is a thorough professional and experienced Mandarin instructor who exemplifies patience, with an ability to calibrate lessons to the needs of her students. She is very aware of an individual student's specific strengths and weaknesses and is able to pace the learning experience to fit the student's need. Where I had problems learning Mandarin from earlier instructors, Yvonne crafted lessons that clarified and eliminated blocking language features and obstacles that had once seemed insurmountable to me.

Whether you've had experience learning Mandarin or not, Yvonne has a unique skill in assessing and teaching to the individual learning style of each student, to inhance his or her prowess. You'll find that time spent in her lesson sessions and doing her personalized homework upgrades your Mandarin skills immensely.


Teck Jin Lim