Director of Operations
Director of Academic Affairs
Learn the Mandarin Chinese Language at the Chinese Language Academy of Washington DC.
The Chinese Language Academy of Washington DC (CLA) provides customized Chinese language and Chinese culture classes to companies, government agencies and individual professionals in the Washington DC area. We offer specially designed Mandarin Chinese classes on the client site, group courses at our facilities located in Washington DC, or private 1-on-1 classes. We also offer lectures provided by prestigious China expats and U.S. government officers to meet your specific goals.
All of our Chinese language teachers hold at least a Master’s degree with the majority having over 10 years of experience in teaching Chinese. With educational and professional experiences in both China and the US, our Chinese Mandarin instructors have a deep understanding of the cultural differences and the dynamic development of the US-China relationship. We emphasize "Illustrating, Interacting and Inspiring" in our teaching philosophy and we pursue "Efficiency and Effectiveness" in our teaching practices. At Chinese Language Academy, you will learn the language, the customs and the business culture in a brand new way for your success in today’s global economy.
Ysabella Chen is the Director of Academic Affairs at the Chinese Language Academy of Washington DC.
Ysabella has worked at Huazhong Normal University as a Mandarin Chinese instructor to international students where she taught students from North America, Europe and Asia, and developed a unique teaching methodology to help students learn Mandarin in an efficient and joyful way. Ysabella has also taught Mandarin at the Upward Bound Program of The U.S. Department of Education. Many of her students are now working for the US government or international companies. As a linguist, Ysabella has provided interpretation services for more than 200 CEOs and government officials including congressmen and members of the President's Cabinet.
Before joining the Chinese Language Academy of Washington DC, Ysabella worked as a Program Officer at the Chinese Language Flagship Program at American Councils for International Education. Her linguist background and program management experience were utilized to support U.S. college students to learn Mandarin and reach a superior level of proficiency critical to U.S. competitiveness and security.
Ysabella received her Bachelor’s Degree in Chinese Linguistics from Huazhong Normal University and her Master’s Degree from the University of Maryland. She holds a Level 1 Certificate of Chinese National Mandarin Test.
Justin Saka is the Director of Operations at the Chinese Language Academy of Washington DC.
Justin has gained operational management experience from his time at public accounting firm Deloitte & Touche and entertainment industry giant The Walt Disney Company. In both positions, he was involved in training and managing teams with specific goals and objectives.
His passion for advancing Asian culture and awareness led Justin to take on a leadership role in the UCLA Asian Pacific Alumni Association as Vice President of Programming. As VP, Justin is responsible for organizing and managing a team of alumni to create and execute events that align with the key initiatives of the UCLA Alumni Association.
Justin also held the position of Director of Operations at one of the largest and most successful Asian American events companies in Los Angeles. Managing a staff of more than 20 highly motivated individuals, the company has promoted and operated events throughout LA. Under his leadership, the company has been able to lead the industry for the past 10 years because of its commitment to a quality experience for both the client and the attendee.
Justin holds a Bachelors of Arts in Business Economics with a minor in Accounting from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
Cynthia Bunton has over 25 years of senior executive experience with a focus on international diplomacy, global and regional program management and business strategy development.
Her responsibilities as a Foreign Service Officer included advising on US interests and managing programs in Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and at the United Nations. She also has a strong background in political analysis, human rights, women’s issues, intellectual property rights and international commerce. Ms. Bunton has worked with the US Congress and at the multi-agency level to facilitate international programs. As an official observer in the monitoring of the Post-Camp David Middle East peacekeeping force, engaged in diplomatic initiatives with the Israeli and Egyptian military. Her multi-national experiences include political assignment at the United Nations and coordination of the Secretary of State’s participation at the UN General Assembly and Security Council.
She spent four years as Deputy Political Counselor at The Hague with extensive dealings with the EU and the International Court of Justice. As Asia Director of the International Republican Institute, Ms. Bunton was responsible for strategic direction and oversight on programs designed to strengthen regulatory and political systems, promote economic opportunity and broaden participation of civil society in 11 countries including China. She serves as Peer Reviewer for the U.S. Institute of Peace, served as a Trustee of Chatham University and currently is a board member of the Washington Network Group and the International Student House. Cynthia is also an avid music lover and voice over artist.
Richard LaMagna is an expert in the field of diplomacy, law enforcement, cybersecurity and Asian affairs.
He has served as Deputy Chief of Intelligence, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Headquaters, and also featured assignments to the White House and National Security Council. He has also held permanent assignments to U.S. diplomatic missions in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Bangkok and Paris. After a distinguished 27-year Federal government career, he was recruited by Microsoft and served as one of Microsoft’s principal spokespersons and testified three times before Congress. Mr. LaMagna moved to the Washington DC area in May 2006 to start LaMagna and Associates, LLC (LMA), whose clients have included Fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft, eBay, Pfizer and the UN. He was recently invited to be the keynote speaker at a conference in China of food and drug administration officials and has presented to delegations of Chinese visitors to the United States.
Mr. LaMagna received a B.A. from Gettysburg College in Philosophy and a Masters in International Affairs from Georgetown University. He also studied at Hong Kong University Master’s Program in Asian Studies. He is a graduate of the U.S. Federal Executive Institute, and the US Department of State Foreign Service Institute in both Cantonese and Mandarin dialects of Chinese, as well as in area studies and culture. The subject of his master’s thesis at Georgetown University examines the feasibility of Western-style liberal democracy in China. He has lived in Asia for over 10 years and has traveled extensively throughout China and the region. He has also been the subject of numerous TV and print media profiles and interviews and was featured on CBS “Market Watch”, CBS’s “60 Minutes” and CNN Asia.
Cynthia R. Bunton
Subject Matter Expert
Christina Zhao is a dedicated and talented instructor with vast experience in teaching languages both in China and in the United States. She has taught students of all ages, levels of proficiency, and various class sizes. Ms. Zhao is extremely creative and excels at understanding what it takes to maximize the potential of her students.
Before she came to the United States, Ms. Zhao taught English classes at the Liyang English Camp and Linguaphone English Center where she helped hundreds of students develop fundamental language capabilities as well as communication and creative thinking skills using modern technology and creative methodologies. She also assisted teachers in developing curriculum and lesson plans that tailored to the needs of the students. Additionally, she began teaching Mandarin Chinese to foreigners in her sophomore year of college. She created an elevator program that helped foreigners learn basic conversational Chinese and culture. Ms. Ma received outstanding feedback from the over 200 foreigners who participated in the program.
Ms. Zhao received her Master’s Degree from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Communication with an emphasis on Intercultural Communication. She has conducted in-depth research on various topics in Communication. Ms. Zhao also has published multiple papers on national and regional communication associations and has regularly spoken for the school’s Chinese program.
Richard C. LaMagna
Subject Matter Expert
Si Chen is an enthusiastic and creative Chinese teacher with years of hands-on experience as a language teacher for both adults and young children. Her experience of incorporating new technology and interesting resources into the class ensures that her students are always engaged. Ms. Chen has taught over 200 students in the U.S. and China.
Ms. Chen’s academic training in education makes it possible for her to apply sociocultural and social cognitive theories in her teaching and develop different curricula based on class size and student proficiency levels. Building a good rapport with students is one of her strengths; with a genuine passion for teaching, Ms. Chen always fosters an encouraging and fun learning environment and promotes interactions between the students and the teacher, and among students themselves. Ms. Chen is also experienced in planning creative lessons. Her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Media offers her creative thinking capabilities.
Before joining the Chinese Language Academy of DC, Ms. Chen worked as an English instructor to VIP students at the New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc, the second largest educational company in China. Her linguist background and teaching skills helped hundreds of students achieve their goals in acquiring a foreign language.
Ms. Chen received her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Media from Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology and her Master’s Degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from the University of Southern California (USC).
Doris Gao is a well experienced Mandarin language teacher who has taught in China, New Zealand and the United States. She has completed four years of professional academic education in teaching Chinese to speakers of other languages and she has been in the Teaching Chinese as a Second Language field for more than 6 years.
Ms. Gao has taught students from different age groups, nationalities, occupations and proficiency levels. She has worked at an international college in China teaching Mandarin to students from North America, Asia and Australia. In New Zealand, she has offered private Chinese lessons to adults, and in the U.S., she has taught elementary school. Her education background and experience teaching in different countries helped her to understand the backgrounds of different students so that she can develop different teaching plans to meet the demand of certain groups or individuals, and support them to reach their learning goals. Her distinctive teaching style makes her class joyful, motivating, and effective.
Ms. Gao holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages from Qufu Normal University and her Master’s Degree in Second Language Teaching form Waikato Institute of Technology in New Zealand. She obtained her Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language Certificate from National Vocational Qualification, United Kingdom.
Wenjia Ma is an engaging and patient Chinese instructor with an enthusiastic cultural-technological teaching approach and solid teaching experience. Her goal as a Chinese instructor is establishing a trusting relationship with students by building a dynamic, energetic, and respectful learning environment. The students’ learning process is facilitated by instilling their passion to become independent language learners.
Before joining the Chinese Language Academy of Washington DC, Ms. Ma has taught courses of all levels in both U.S. universities and immersive summer programs and has gained positive feedback from students. As a drill practice instructor in U.S. universities, she has developed effective customized lesson plans to help students consolidate lesson content and created motivational exercises to maximize students' individual performance. From her experience of teaching in immersive summer programs, she has been exposed to different teaching materials and methodology and has absorbed various teaching philosophies developing strong adaptive capability in regards to teaching style and materials.
Ms. Ma holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language from Beijing Language and Culture University and her Master’s Degree in Bilingual Education from Georgetown University. Her and her co-authors’ paper on Perceptions of Mandarin Tones has been accepted by Task-Based Language Teaching conference, 2015 in Belgium.