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Special Issue 2019 – Outbound TP (Taiwan)

Outbound TP to Dominican International School in Taipei

On 24th August, a group of 12 final year ELED students set off for an outbound teaching practice at Taipei. Their destination: Dominican International School, a Catholic, private, international school located in the outskirts of the city. The group was assigned to teach English Language, including English for Academic Purposes as well as Language Arts. Student levels range from primary one to secondary four.

“There is no formula in teaching”

During the stay, we noted the starkly different teaching and learning styles amongst teachers and learners. Serving the same lesson objectives, some of them liked to pleasantly occupy their learners with various activities; some of them preferred to incorporate more critical, evaluative discussion sessions into their lessons; while some of them would adopt a discovery approach and let students learn through projects. At first, we were concerned that the mismatch in teaching styles may affect students’ knowledge acquisition, but we soon realised that teachers with different personal qualities, cultural backgrounds and learning experiences will undoubtedly shape the way they teach. The key is, therefore, not to imitate what other educators do, but to envision our own teaching styles and shape our learners in concordance to our own personalities and beliefs.

“Be flexible! Don’t be too harsh on yourself.”

As student teachers, we not only developed professional competency on how to tackle various challenges and teach a curriculum that is not at all familiar to us, but also to adapt and synthesize our past teaching experiences together with the theoretical knowledge acquired through lectures and tutorials. In particular, a great amount of flexibility must be adopted within each class and lesson as it was very difficult to gauge the level of students. While some lessons were more successful than others, the professional dialogue and reflection after each teaching day provided us with the necessary input and encouragement to improve. Through the mutual support of classmates, collective brainstorming and analysis of lesson plans and actual teaching, we could transform our experience into concrete suggestions for future teaching and professional development.

“Be flexible! Be proactive! Be a competent teacher!”

This outbound teaching practice was an invaluable internship experience for us prospective teachers in developing a more international outlook towards the profession. In such a globalised and multicultural city like Hong Kong, a city heavily influenced by both western philosophies and Confucius Heritage Culture, it was refreshing to experience the innovative practices of an integrated, infused and intermixed cultures within a school.

Here are two videos that we would like to share with you:

Full Video (Including teaching and reflections!):

Slideshow of Photos:

September 12, 2019   No Comments

Issue 25: Significance of Memory in Migrant Literature: In Retrospection

By Cedric Wong (ELED graduate)

Abstract

The time that we remember, the way that we remember, the fact that we remember, is perhaps, more important than what is being remembered. In Bharati Mukherjee’s Nostalgia, an Indian doctor Dr Patel who established a successful career in America remains constantly longing for his Indian roots based on his romanticized memory of India. André Aciman’s Shadow Cities, he documents his own life across continents, and talks about how memory, including distorted memory, reacts with changes in his identity. These two stories are full of distorted, emotion-laden, implicit and collective memory. In Bharati Mukherjee’s Nostalgia and André Aciman’s Shadow Cities, the characters’ timing, manner of remembering and the fact that they remember, and forget, shapes the characters’ thinking and behaviour.

 

 

In the stories, memory can be manipulated and romanticized. In Nostalgia, Dr Patel met Padma across a place called “New Taj Mahal” and they met in a fancy, “upscale” restaurant (Mukherjee 21, 30). Taj Mahal palace is a great representation of the Indian tradition and memory, and the shop named New Taj Mahal, which sells Indian food—the rice and spice—did stir up some of Dr Patel’s childhood memory of home. Yet, the author’s decision to call that shop “New” Taj Mahal means that what Dr Patel was remembering was not the memory at its raw, untouched and original state, but a re-interpreted, or re-invented memory that romanticizes India. This is because the India which makes him feel “nostalgic” was, interestingly, never in his childhood memory (Mukherjee, 35).Given that he was son of a peasant, it is very unlikely that he had been to any sophisticated restaurants in his hometown, any one close to the one he visited in American: with “tablecloths”, good-quality “music” , filled with smell of “rose petals” and has a “hors d’ oeuvres” (Mukherjee, 30). And it is quite likely that women in his deprived hometown do no wear “24-caratt gold…pearls, rubies, emeralds” all at the same time all the time. However, He felt homesick when he visited the nice restaurant and slept with Indian women. He had not dined in such nice restaurant in India, yet felt nostalgic in one, which seem to suggest his memory of Indian has been improved in and only in retrospection. Perhaps, his childhood memory of India was never that good—there are no fancy restaurants and women there did not wear 24-carat gold, but thinking in retrospect, he somehow manipulated and fatacized the India in his memory into a better one. This romanticized and idealized version of Indian is found only Dr Patel’s memory, not in his history. The restaurant, or even Padma, represents an Orientalist fantasy, a stereotypical view held by many Western people, not the real, grounded, Indian history.  In Shadow Cities, Aciman made it clear that he went to Straus Park to remember an “unreal Alexandria” (Aciman, 49). This invented Alexandria “did not exist…out there” but exists inside “just me” (Aciman, 49). Since Aciman has been away from Alexandria for so long, and he left Alexandria when he was young, it is reasonable to think that what Alexandria has left in his memory is piecemeal and fragmental. The memory gaps needed in the formation of an organic impression of Alexandria might perhaps be simply a product of imagination, fabrication and fantasy. Based on his wishful thinking, his memory of Alexandria is formed, though without much material basis. Also in Shadow Cities, when the narration was small, he used to “invent” a city beyond the sea (Aciman, 43). Although the city was mere imagination, it was a part of his memory. Even his memory of the park itself contains imagination. He mentally restored (aka imagined) the past of the park by placing mental “transparency” over the current scene (Aciman 47). This echoes the view that memory can be distorted and memory is malleable, as mentioned in class.

 

A second significance of memory in the stories is that implicit memory is used to show the mindset of the characters. According to psychologists, there are explicit and implicit memories. Explicit memories are those that could be declared or talked about. Dr Patel, for example, can declare that he is an American because he remembers explicitly the memory episodes of becoming an American in “a Manhattan courthouse”, voting for Ronald Reagan or burning his “Indian Society membership card” (Mukherjee, 28). These are memory episodes or images which can be articulated and described. However, his implicit, or procedural memory, makes his, implicitly, an Indian. He has an Indian brain, wired with the Indian way of thinking. This is evident when he converted dollars into “rupees”, the Indian currency, which means he still compares numbers and values using the Indian mindset (Mukherjee, 23). Also, he felt resentful when he was mistaken as a Pakistani. If he had treated himself as an American, not in Indian, he would not have felt resentful, since it is the Indians who have the bitter memory of having wars with Pakistan. Also, he felt regretful that he “hadn’t reciprocated” his parents devotion (Mukherjee, 24). This idea of having to reciprocate the parents is definitely an Indian (or pan-Eastern) way of thinking. In America, as far as I know, many university graduates tend to pursue an independent life, and paying back the parents might not be generally seen as a mainstream way of life. So by thinking that he had to reciprocate his parents, he was, in fact, positioning himself in an ethical web of human relations, which is distinctively Eastern or collectivist. He retained, in his implicit memory, an Indian interpersonal sense of obligation. Another example is his aesthetics. Beauty is highly culturally-determinant. It is almost certain that he learnt in his childhood that beautiful women, who are called “goddess”, have “narrow waists”, “dress in colorful “silk sari” and wear oriental accessories (Mukherjee, 25). The fact that he calls Padma a “goddess” repeatedly and imagine her in traditional (perhaps fantacized) Indian clothes shows that this particular Indian perception of aesthetic remained in his memory and is carried to his seemingly American life. Although Dr Patel can be officially declared an American, his implicit memory, thus his way of thinking, defined him from the rest. In Shadow Cities, Aciman’s behavior of visiting the park can be traced back to his memory of being an exile. It is not just his history of moving around, but also his vivid remembering of moving around, which makes him visit Straus Park. As he said, visiting the park is “part of” remembering it (Aciman, 44).  If he has forgotten his exile, maybe, his feelings to the Park might not be that strong. Our personality and our behaviors are rooted in our memory.

 

And implicit memory cannot be avoided, especially in times of crisis. In Nostalgia, Dr Patel hired prostitutes, when he was “possessed” by an older him. The oldness might be referring to the traditional Indian (perhaps specifically Hindus) notion of polygamy. “Possess” here deserve some close reading, as the word is usually associated with spiritual possession, which, according to Indian folklore, is un-avoidable and cannot be gotten rid of easily. Memory is like spiritual possession, when it attacks, people act accordingly and cannot fight back or get rid of it easily, especially in times of vulnerability. Apart from hiring prostitutes, another example is near the ending. Procedural memory is difficult to articulate or describe, but when it is needed, people can act according to the procedural memory readily, like we remember how we ride a bike, spin a pen or go to toilet. After Dr Patel dealt with the scam, he squatted “like a villager…in a way he had done in his father’s home” (Mukherjee, 37). This illustrates that, in times of vulnerability, implicit memory comes back and people act according to it, perhaps for comfort. According to Sigmund Freud, a regression to childhood behaviours or way of thinking offers a feeling of assurance, familiarity, continuity, stability. This is why implicit memory is inescapable in times of crisis.

 

To further the point on assurance and familiarity, memory is loaded with emotion. Unlike photocopying which is all about the record per se, remembering, in the stories, inevitably conjures up emotions. In Nostalgia, Dr Patel “missed” his parents (Mukherjee, 23). When he was remembering his parents, not only did he recalls images of them, he felts homesick, “regret” and “longing” (Mukherjee, 24). On the other hand, when Dr Patel drank masala tea he felt, not just delicious, but also calm. This might be related to some calming memory related to malasa in his past. Similarly, in Shadow Cities, Aciman, said that, paradoxically, being lost can be “reassuring, comforting” (Aciman, 44 ). It is not being lost which matters, it is the re-living of the memory which offers calm and familiarity. This is perhaps why he wants everything in his memory including the Straus Park “to remain the same” because any change makes him feel “fear” —a fear of loss (Aciman, 39). Human memory carries an affective dimension.

 

Another dimension of memory is collective memory, or the lack of it. In Nostalgia, Dr Patel missed his parents and yet he could not share his longing with his wife because she would not understand. This is, presumably, because his wife has not shared any similar experience or feeling. This lack of collective memory perhaps undertones their relationship of being slightly alienated and not always satisfying. Since memory is loaded with emotions, perhaps, what matters more is, not what is being remembered, but what emotion is loaded with the memory. If people can feel the same memory in similar past experiences, albeit the actual difference of what is remembered, they share collective memory, in a broad sense. In Shadow Cities, Mrs Danziger, Kurt Appelbaum and the narrator/author/Aciaman seem to share the memory of an outcast or exile. This bonds them. It is hinted by the tattoo that Mrs Danziger was a marginalized member in Nazi Germany, according to discussion in class. Kurt Appelbaum, also a German, immigrated to America and was left alone towards the end of his career (Obituaries). Other people in the homeless people, drunk people and drug addicts are also outcasts of the society. It might be because of their common feeling and memory of being outcasts that put them together. According to psychologists, people with the same energy, or in this case, the same memory of being an outcast, attract each other. This may also explain why Dr Patel, in Nostalgia, are surrounded by ethnic and social minorities: Chinese colleague, Jamaican nurse, Chinese family friend and schizophrenics. This echoes the class discussion that, identity is about being identical, in this case, identical in sharing the same memory of an exile.

 

As suggested, our memory shape our cognition and affection so much, and whether we share collective memory affect our relation, the act of remembering itself is highly significant. Memory constitutes our thinking and action, and so, remembering is soul-searching. It is, as suggested in Shadow Cities, “contemplation” and “finding oneself” (Aciman, 41). In recalling his memories of moving around, Aciman confirmed his identity as an exile. In recalling his memories related to India, Dr Patel, in similar ways, reinforces his Indian facet of character and fantasizes about India. For Aciman, it is the remembering, not so much what is remembered that matters.

 

But it is not just the remembering that shape the character, the forgetting, too. Forgetting, in many cases, is a natural process as time gone by, which also shape the characters. Dr Patel could “no longer retrieve…some boyhood emotions” (Mukherjee, 23). This means that he is no longer a boy; he is a man, independent of family. In Shadow Cities, the narrator’s fear of forgetting the imagined city beyond the sea perhaps signifies his fear of loss. And the fact that he forgot “what the old Straus Park looked like” means some part of his memory becomes implicit.

 

We have explored the different facets of remembering. The characters remember in times of crisis, vulnerability and loss. They remember with fascination and imagination. They remember and they forget. The time that they remember, the way that they remember, the fact that we remember, is perhaps, more important than what is being remembered. Remembering, per se, is soul-searching. Remembering is idealizing. Remembering is shaping oneself.

 

Works Cited

Aciman, André. “Shadow cities.” NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS 44 (1997):     35-37.

Mukherjee, Bharati. “Nostalgia.” India. Tradition and Change: Five Short Stories (2007): 57-66.

Obituaries. The New York Times. February 01, 1990. Retrieved     http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/01/obituaries/kurt-appelbaum-pianist-84.html

July 2, 2019   No Comments

Issue 25: Globalization and Cultural Diversity: The case of McDonald’s in Hong Kong

By Angus Cheng (ELED Year 5 student)

McDonald’s is a popular American fast food chain across the globe. As defined by Knight and deWit (1997), globalization refers to “the-flow-of-technology, economy, knowledge, people, values, [and] ideas across borders” (p.6). The spread of McDonald’s fast food from America shows the flow of economy across borders. Ritzer (1992) proposed “the fast food restaurants are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as of the rest of the world.” (p.1). Hence, some people may consider the expansion of McDonald’s as a form of American imperialism and a threat to cultural diversity. However, in Hong-Kong, McDonald’s has introduced products to enhance cultural diversity. One obvious example is the rice burger Fàn-tastic. With reference to the McDonald’s rice burger in Hong-Kong, this essay illustrates how globalization has enhanced cultural diversity through glocalization, stimulating creativity and mixing various cultures.

Fàn-tastic, which is a rice burger, was first introduced in-2006. This product takes the form of a hamburger but the slices of bread are replaced with rice patties with mushroom (see-Figure 1). The product has undergone changes throughout the years and new elements have been added. The product itself and the modification of the product show that cultural diversity is promoted when ideas flow from different parts of the world to Hong-Kong.

Figure 1: Advertisement of Fàn-tastic in 2006

Globalization has enhanced cultural diversity through glocalization. Glocalization refers to the process that international products undergo adaptations to local culture (Hong-&-Song, 2010). According to the press release, “McDonald’s Hong Kong has developed [the-rice-burger] from extensive customer research into the food choices and ingredients preferred by Hong-Kong people.” (“McDonald’s”, 2006) The culture of eating burgers flow from America to Hong-Kong and with the adaptation to the local rice-eating culture, the Fàn-tastic rice burger is developed. This reflects that due to glocalization, McDonald’s has provided customers with a new variety of fast food by blending local elements with the American fast food culture.

Moreover, the flow of linguistic knowledge under globalization has stimulated creativity. Ryan (2006) argued that “globalization could not happen without [the English-language]” (p.28). Under globalization, English has become a lingua franca, a global common language. When the knowledge of English flows from the Western countries to Hong-Kong and comes into contact with Cantonese, people has a new perspective to make use of language in advertising. Jackson (2014) suggested that “the sharing of diverse perspectives can generate novel ideas for products, customer interaction strategies and advertising methods” (p.276). The name of the rice burger has shown that new linguistic codes in advertising are created through the process of code-mixing. The rice burger is named as ‘飯-tastic’, a code-mixed term of Cantonese and English. The code-mixed term means ‘rice is fantastic’ as the word ‘飯’ means rice. Phonemically, ‘飯-tastic’ and ‘fantastic’ shares the same pronunciation (/fæntæstɪk/). Globalization has enhanced cultural diversity as the knowledge of language facilitated bilingual language play in advertising.

Globalization has also enhanced cultural diversity by creating a heterogeneous culture. The flow of ideas comes from different parts of the world. Apart from the American fast food culture, the Japanese animation culture has also infiltrated into Hong Kong. Pieterse (2015) suggested that cultural mixing across different regions in the world is observable. It is observed that the rice burger is further modified in-2016 by integrating element from-Japan. The-burger is presented as the Japanese egg-like character Gudetama (see-Figure 2). A heterogeneous culture is formed as the whole product is a mixture of American, Japanese and Hong-Kong culture.

Figure 2: Advertisement of Fàn-tastic in 2016

All in all, the case of McDonald’s in Hong Kong shows that globalization allows the flow of economy, knowledge and idea across the world and hence enhances cultural diversity through glocalization, stimulating creativity and creating a heterogeneous culture.

 

 

References

Hong, P. Y. P., & Song, I. H. (2010). Glocalization of social work practice: Global

and local responses to globalization. International Social Work53(5), 656-670

Jackson, J. (2014). Introducing language and intercultural communication.

Routledge.

Knight, J., & de Wit, H. (Eds.). (1997). Internationalisation of higher education in 

Asia Pacific countries. European Association for International Education.

McDonald’s Makes Rice Fantastic By Launching The New Chicken Fàn-tasticTM

and Beef Fàn-tasticTM. (2006, March 20). Retrieved October 18, 2016, from

http://campaign.mcdonalds.com.hk/english/about/press/press.asp?id=060320

Pieterse, J. N. (2015). Globalization and culture: Global mélange. Rowman &

Littlefield.

Ritzer, G. (1992). The McDonaldization of society. Pine Forge Press.

Ryan, S. (2006). Language learning motivation within the context of globalisation: An

L2 self within an imagined global community. Critical inquiry in language studies: An international Journal3(1), 23-45.

 

July 2, 2019   No Comments

Issue 25: Drawing

By Trista Tang (ELED Year 5 student)

Sky is blue, leaves are green, sun is red.

A glass bottle is probably white?

 

Look…

This is a glass bottle on a dark blue cotton cloth in a room.

Dark blue, yellow, white and grey.

A combination of colours

can make things disappear.

 

Look…

I can see strings of light grey and milky yellow in the bluish sky,

greyish blue and carbon black in a white clock.

Tears of laughter, fear in anger.

That’s how our lives are constructed by shades of colours.

July 2, 2019   No Comments

Issue 25: Sunrise

By Nick Chan (ELED Year 5 student) 

 

Neon lights fading,

Cheers subsided,

Broken glass of Tsingtao bottles everywhere,

And the stinking vomit – they must have had too much pizza.

A few Gwailous round the corner,

Drunk and sober.

At night, they revel.

At sunrise, I suffer.

I hold my broomstick and push my cart.

A few contemptuous stares,

As dark as the suits and ties they wear.

I sweep along,

As I look up at the sun,

And get looked down upon in Lan Kwai Fong.

___________________________________

Gwailous — A Cantonese term for Westerners

 

July 2, 2019   No Comments

Issue 25: Lost and Found

By Chloe Kwong (2018 graduate)

I’m Jasmine. I’m 24 years old. I’m a junior worker at Painless Committee. Mr. Wong is my boss. Our company strives to help people live a painless life. My client today is Mr. Jeffrey Ho. He’s coming at 11am.

 

After being briefed about my duty today, I put on my long white coat, adjust the lights and temperature in the room, go to my seat, turn on the laptop, update some basic records, and wait. I wonder what kind of story I would hear today. Over the months, I’ve met a number of clients. I can’t tell you any of the stories I’ve heard, or any of my clients’ names or their appearances. It has nothing to do with guarding the confidentiality of customers. It’s just that I really can’t. Yet somehow I feel a lingering sadness when I try to recall the stories of my past clients. And I feel relieved as I know they are no longer living in pain.

 

Knock, knock. Mr. Ho is outside. “Come in, please,” I say. His hair is short and black. He has glasses in silver frames. He’s not very tall, but he’s so thin that I wonder if he eats very little. He is wearing a grey T-shirt with the word “AUTHENTIC” emblazoned in black. He looks at me earnestly, smiles and says, “Hello.” I don’t know why but I feel like this is the warmest smile I’ve seen among my clients. That’s a good sign, I guess, as the treatment could be carried out more easily. “Hello, Mr. Ho. I’m Jasmine. You can sit on the sofa there. Okay, let’s turn on some tunes to calm your nerves.” Playing music is my favourite part of the routine. It helps me relax and I want my client to feel at ease too.

 

“I Dare You by The xx, please,” he says.

 

“Sure,” I search for the song on Spotify, and here we go…

 

I’m in love with it, intoxicated…

 

“This is actually the song that brought me and Kaydence together,” he smirks.

 

“Kaydence? Was she your girlfriend?”

 

“Yea,” he smiles awkwardly. “It’s a nice name, isn’t it? It sounds so appealing,”

 

I smirk. “I like this song too. It gives me chills and I feel like I’ve heard it before, but I can’t tell,”

 

I put a piece of white oval-shaped pad on Mr. Ho’s head. It is connected to my machines.

 

“So…how did you meet Kaydence?” I ask.

 

“We did the same major at university, and we both love music. When we first met, we were chilling to this song in a computer room,”

 

“Gosh, that’s such a lovely story. I guess you two shared a lot of sweet memories,”

 

“Yea…we’ve been to some concerts, learnt how to play the guitar together, and we used to watch the sea from time to time. She likes the sea a lot,”

 

“Then why did you two break up?”

 

“Well, I still don’t know why. She’s just…gone,” He looks away from me and stares at the monitor which shows the flashbacks of his memories. Mr. Ho’s recollection of a past relationship is now being played on the screen like a movie, and I feel a weird connection with the ever-smiling girl. Do I know Kaydence? Do we look similar? I can’t tell.

 

“You know, even though it’s just been a few months, I feel like my memories of her are getting farther and farther away from me,” he says. “And that doesn’t require any advanced technology,” he smiles bitterly.

 

“Then…what do you want here?” I’m puzzled.

 

He’s so focused on the screen. Then he says, “Perhaps…I just come here to see her and confirm that she’s still somewhere in my mind,”

 

“Do you want to do anything about it?”

 

“Well, I think I’m okay with it. I guess it’s better to be able to remember the bad times, yet relieved, than to only cling on the good memories but feel empty,”

 

I can hear it now like I heard it then…

 

This somehow rings a bell. What do I know now? And what can I remember?

 

“Oh yea, I wonder if I know what “remember” is,”

 

“You do. You still feel something, don’t you? That’s what you’ve got,”

 

“How do you know?”

 

“From your gaze, your voice, your demeanour…I know you so well,”

 

I look into his eyes. His gaze is soft and sincere. It seems like we’re both finding something from each other. I can’t tell what I’ve got. But I can feel a sense of warmth. Is this something I’ve been missing?

 

“Well, I have to go now. Thanks for chatting with me,” he says.

 

“It’s a pleasure to talk to you actually. I hope…I hope you’re feeling better,”

 

“Yes, I do,” he smiles swiftly.

 

“Goodbye,” he waves.

 

“Goodbye,” I wave back.

 

He walks to the door and leaves. He is gone.

 

I go back to my seat and try to update the record for an attended case as usual. But I’m so overwhelmed that I cannot type even a word.

 

“Jasmine, it’s time to clear. Please finish the report quickly,”

 

“No, I have to keep it. Mr. Wong, please let me,”

 

“I’ll now give you 30 seconds. 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25…”

The moment I hear the countdown, my heart starts racing. But I put down the ear pods and look out of the window. I need to get back what I’ve lost. I need to remember.

July 2, 2019   No Comments

Issue 24: “In Dialogue with…” an English Teacher

Jacky Wong (ELED Year 2)

Dear Chloe,

Hi there, I hope you’re doing well in your school. As you may know that my classmates and I are going for teaching practice soon, however, I don’t think I am mentally-prepared for it, let alone being a full-time teacher after graduation. To gain a better understanding of a frontline teacher’s situation, can I ask you several questions?

The first thing I concern for is implementing our teaching. Even though we have learnt theories of English language teaching and teaching pedagogies in our lectures, will there be great problems if we put them into practice? Will we be on our own during TP and will we have to improvise under the dynamic classroom environment? Have you faced with any special situation that you can share?

Besides, I wish I would be calm enough to maintain a good parent-teacher relationship. Have you ever encountered situations that might lead to parent-teacher conflict? I know that home-school cooperation is crucial in providing suitable help for students in need, still I am worried that I might mess it up. Do you have any advice for me?

Another thing I’m a bit worried about is tackling my relationship with the students.  Do you have any ideas that newbies could prevent students from disobeying their orders in class.  I know that some students may become so friendly with young teachers due to their small differences in age. Do you think it really matters to be so friendly with students?

Lastly, it’s about teacher’s mentality. All of us know that being a teacher is one of the most stressful jobs in Hong Kong and frontline teachers are subject to anxiety. How do you usually cope with the stress and maintain your work-life balance?

That’s all for now and I really look forward to your reply!

Best wishes,
Jacky, A Teacher-to-be

 

Chloe Kwong (ELED 2018 graduate)

Dear Teacher-to-be:

Thanks for your letter. When I was an ELED student like you, I also had similar concerns and worries about working as a teacher. Hence, I would definitely like to share with you some interesting and impressive moments in my teaching life so far, so as to give you some guidance and encouragement to let you keep pursuing your dream.

Improvisation is surely something that every teacher has tried when teaching in a classroom. When it comes to improvisation, it immediately triggers some of my bad memories. For example, I once could not open my PowerPoint due to an unexpected technical problem, and I had to teach with the blackboard instead. My students were so unmotivated without enough visual stimulations and their poor performance made me a bit frustrated after the lesson. There was also a time when the naughtiest student in my class got out of control despite my constant warnings. Therefore, I had to stop teaching and ask my students to do some reading exercise on their own. Then I talked to the misbehaved kid to calm him down and find out the reason that made him misbehave. Yet there were also some little moments that made me enjoy improvisation. Some students were keen in spelling and they were highly engaged and became motivated when they could spell the words correctly. . There was also a time when most of my students were dull and uninterested about the topic.  To get back their attention and interest, I involved them in some group competitions. Improvisation is inevitable in our lessons and what I’ve learnt from my experiences during the teaching practicum and my full-time teaching life so far, is that we really have to be flexible. Lesson planning is of course important as it helps us to structure a lesson that can make students learn better and predict any anticipated problems. However, things might go wrong unexpectedly and what we always have to bear in mind is that our students are of the first priority. If the classroom environment isn’t suitable for the students, fix it. If the students are unmotivated or even disturbing the lesson, change to another activity immediately or even stop the lesson to settle the problems first. The effectiveness of teaching really depends on the learning atmosphere. Always remember, pay attention to the students’ reactions and feelings when teaching. A plan is just a plan, but every student is different and we have to make sure that each of them can learn something.

Regarding your worries about maintaining a good relationship between teachers and parents, I’m grateful that the parents I’ve met so far are considerate and understanding. There was a time that I received a parent’s letter about his son being bullied by his classmates and he demanded a meeting after school that day to discuss this incident. To be frank, this was my first time to handle an emergency like that and I was quite afraid that I would mess it up. Yet I think when we start working at a school, as a newbie in the teaching field, we should always remember that experienced colleagues can support us whenever needed. Hence, I showed the letter to the Head of Discipline to ask for his advice and he was willing to meet the parent with me after school. The incident was settled peacefully in the end. For serious incidents, we can ask for help from experienced colleagues; while for daily communication, I think it’s important that we show our genuine attitude and care when we get along with our students. Parents can know something about the teachers through their children’s opinion. If we have done something that touches the students’ heart, their parents will probably know it. They may also know who the troublesome kids are and how they disturb the class, and so they will understand our stress and fatigue when handling class order. Therefore, I think one of the keys to maintaining a good relationship between teachers and parents is to establish a good (or at least not hostile) relationship with our students first. It can help facilitate our communication with parents so that we can work together to help our students grow well.

While for teacher-student relationships, it’s very crucial that we let our students know our expectations on them and the rules that we want them to obey at the beginning. Also, we have to be firm and fair when executing the rules. I think it’s better to be stricter when we teach the students for the first few weeks so that they will not keep trying to test our bottom line. We can gradually be friendlier with them after we’ve adapted to the school environment and have known more about our students’ needs. Remember that aside from punishment, it’s important that we show our appreciation and give some rewards to the students for their good behaviour. This is one of the ways to let students know how much we care about them so that we can build a good relationship with our students more easily. Responding to your question, I think we can be friendly with our students by having some occasional jokes during lessons and chatting with students after class. But still, don’t forget the rules that we have set and we have to remind students how they should behave when they are having our lessons.

Then for the last issue which is about handling stress and maintaining a work-life balance, I think giving yourself some alone time and expressing your emotions about your work to someone you are most comfortable to talk to can help. My stress is mainly due to the heavy workload and classroom management. During these 3 months of my full-time career, I’ve got some trials and errors in managing my class. I sometimes felt so frustrated that I questioned myself if I’m really suitable to be a teacher. However, after having a private talk to myself, clearing my thoughts and reflecting on my strengths and weaknesses, thinking about what motivates me to be a teacher, and of course sharing my thoughts and feelings about my work with my friends who are good listeners, I was gradually able to get some comfort and energy to keep going on. Despite the above remedies, hobbies do provide a good alternative to release stress. Be it listening to music, reading or doing sports, you should have some free time doing what you enjoy. Treasure your weekend and recharge yourself. After taking enough rest, you’ll then be ready to face another week of challenges.

Facing the teaching practice and the long road of teaching career ahead, it’s okay to feel nervous and worried. Nevertheless, I hope my sharing can give you some insights about what you are going to face, and how you can better equip yourself to be the kind of teacher that you want to be. Life is full of challenges, and also changes. Remember not to blame yourself too much for any fault that has happened. We all learn from mistakes and we never know where life will take us. Just keep learning and keep improving ourselves. Accept our limitations and try our best within our possibilities. Believe in yourself and keep pursuing what you want.

All the best to your future and I can’t wait to hear your sharing after you have kicked off your teaching practice!

Yours,
Chloe

In Dialogue with an English Teacher

 

 

February 19, 2019   No Comments

Issue 24: “In Dialogue With…” ELED Student Teachers

February 19, 2019   No Comments

Issue 24: “In Dialogue with…” Love Relationships

Angus Man ELED Year 2

  What is real love? It is a relationship in which you’ll feel happy, but painful at the same time. If there’s only happiness in the relationship, that’s not “real” love. Obstacles are often used to test how persistent love is. If you love somebody persistently, you must surmount the hurdles of finding real love. Every one of you feels lost when you are searching real love for yourselves.

 According to Aristophanes in the Symposium, it is said that our body was in the shape of a ball and had been cut into half by Zeus at the very beginning of the human race. Our goal to be achieved in our lives is to pursue the other half of our own. You may originally be a male, a female or a mixture of both. You should never stop finding the other half and it’s a natural power that you can’t resist. Though the process can be difficult and painful, you have to persist until you find the real one. Let’s look for our destined person with patience and sincere love from the bottom of our heart.

 

Kristy Kung ELED Year 2

Love itself is ever so wonderful that it brings out the best in one another. It makes us feel attracted to one another and leads us to happiness. However, we experience the feeling of pain and sorrow from different forms of relationships when things do not seem to work out. Sometimes the pain can drain and tear us down physically and mentally. People often think that if it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t true love; but I believe that love itself does not hurt, it is the mistakes you make or the lessons you learn in relationships that stings.

  Love does not bring about the pain of loss but the overwhelming attachment to a specific person or mode of getting along does; the pain of dissension is not caused by love but the disagreements in between that hinder further development of the relationships; the pain of disappointment is not a result of loving a person but the ruined promises that were once made so firmly. 

The hurtful feeling is caused by the fear of not being loved, the detachment from our own subjective definition of love and the lack of confidence in maintaining a relationship with unconditional love. That is why people should never break up in the name of love, but in the name of the valuable lessons learnt in the relationships, for Meša Selimovi once said that “love is the only thing in this world that covers up all pain and makes someone feel wonderful again. Love is the only thing in this world that does not hurt”.

In Dialogue with Love Relationships

February 19, 2019   No Comments

Issue 24: ‘In Dialogue with…’ The HKDSE

Gideon Cheung (ELED Year 1)

What did the HKDSE exam mean to me?

Adults tend to tell us that what matters is the process, not the result. I really wanted to concur.

 

Back then in secondary school, with our public exam (the HKDSE) upcoming, I still paid attention in enjoying class time with my fellow university pursuers. My motto was neither ‘to spend all my time on revising and working on past papers’, nor ‘to make best use of my limited time and get the best results in my ability’. It was ‘to treasure the time I can waste away (not studying)’.

 

Having taken the first batch of exams, I thought I could finally bid the wrath of those nasty Chinese papers farewell. It was premature of me to think in that way, for who knew, I would take yet another destructive blow in failing overall.

 

It took me three whole years in high school studying the craft. I consider these three years time well spent. If anything, I did at least hand in ninety-percent of my work on time, and I tried my best at class, which I consider an incredible achievement. I also upheld my principle of having fun whilst learning, and not learning just for the sake of it. In other words, I was very efficient during revision, and I found enjoyment from the challenge of learning the framework or blueprint which the papers were to be done in. Either way, all were undone by the screwing up of one single paper; and yes, that was the only exam of all exams that I messed up.

 

Last year, I turned into a sophomore of the HKDSE examinations. Even having taken private tutorial lessons every other fortnight in preparation for the terror (known as Chinese), I was still not thrilled with my learning progress. For once, I found the process stagnant and tedious. Amidst this uphill climb, I failed to find the slightest bit of enjoyment. This put a strain on my body, and a little under two weeks from the actual fight, my body gave way; in the last ten or so days prior to the exam, I barely put my hand on those carefully handwritten notes, or the mountains of past papers. It was in such a state that I entered the intimidating jaws of the entrance of the hall. And ironically it was this sorry state that pulled me past the re-exams.

 

In secondary school, we used to call university the ‘entrance ticket’ to attaining a successful life. The completion of a university degree, however, does not guarantee success. After all, myriad spectrums of input, namely in the forms of intellect and hard work, are paramount. As such, many identify university as a stepping stone, one of many steps en route for success.

 

But how about those who fall in the category ‘without entrance ticket’? Will they be labelled as the failures of society? If so, society is constructed by a good number of failures. Moreover, from an early age I was taught (more like indoctrinated) that Adolf Hitler graduated university (albeit the falseness of this information), while the likes of Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, and Charles Dickens all became huge successes without the seemingly essential degree.

 

But wait, now that I have finally gotten back on track this year, does that mean all those past three years were for naught? Should I have been more calculating and just simply aimed for the end result? I’m not one to attempt both. I do not want to admit it, but it’s very unfortunately, highly likely that at the death, it was the end result that mattered most. If not, I would not have wasted a year’s time trying to get back on track; instead, I could have either been taking extra piano lessons or Japanese classes. “What a waste” is how I would express my time to be consumed this year. Then again, who am I to complain my failures to? I was my fault to begin with. (Who will even bother sitting down with me to listen to my grumbling?)

 

Even though I have finally gotten back on track, I am already a year behind my peers, who have all become my seniors. I can look back and point at a lot of what-ifs, but the truth is that the same way examinations have ripped my life into shreds, it has reconstructed me into a maturer and more focused fellow. So with all this said, I can only wonder: does the process really mean nothing to me?

In Dialogue with Exams

February 19, 2019   No Comments

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