Haolei Hu is working in Jiangxi Normal University, in the South-East of China.
1 What was your background before you took the CELTA, teaching and other?
Before taking CELTA, I had been a university lecturer in China for 9 years, a part-time study center teacher in English Language Academy of University of Auckland for over 4 years and two years’ experience as a radioman in China early on.
2 What kind of school are you teaching in now?
I am a lecturer in Foreign Languages College, Jiangxi Normal University, China. I give courses to both undergraduates and postgraduates. Apart from courses focusing on English language skills, I am also lecturing on teacher-training courses, including Second Language Acquisition, English Teaching Practice, and Intercultural Communication. Meanwhile, I supervise student research projects about language teaching and learning as well as language teacher development.
Another area of English teaching I am working on is teaching young learners ranging from 5 to 12 years old. I now establish a workshop to give English classes myself on one hand, and on the other hand to provide opportunities of practicum for my university students. I am demonstrating them how to apply what is taught in lectures to practical teaching, including course designing, lesson planning, executing, evaluating, giving feedback in and out of class, learner analyses, classroom management, etc. I also need to deal with recruiting, marketing, and management issues to a certain degree. To be honest, it is a big burden even running a small school and I am working hard to balance my university job and my own workshop.
I had also taught TOEFL reading to two classes of high school students for a year before opening my workshop. I found it is more important to motivate and supply scaffolds for learners from earlier stage in English learning. Otherwise, many of them may be misled by those instrumental needs and study only for tests with little thinking of what they really like and need and how to approach their goals.
3 What kind of students do you teach, and what do you like most about teaching them?
As I said, I teach BA and MA students in university as well as young learners, including pre-K, primary school students, and secondary school students.
What I like most in teaching them? For BA students, I hope my courses can point out a direction of career development for those future teachers and convince them the notorious exam-oriented English classes should and can be replaced by the same-effective communicative and exploratory teaching.
For my young students, I value the chance to motivate their internal needs of expression from initial stage and guide them through other-regulation to self-regulation in English language learning. I expect the parents would be patient to witness the change in their children. I am endeavor to prove that the communicative tasks/activities in my classes could equip students with skills and competence to meet the demands of examinations too. Parents nowadays are struggling between adapting their kids to the sever competition in school and society, and releasing some burden of learning a foreign language for them. Hopefully, I can do something to make a change.
4 What’s a recent lesson that you really enjoyed teaching? And why did you enjoy it?
Since I am teaching an English picture book reading class this summer for kids of 5-8 years old, I must say I really enjoy it. One of the biggest reasons is that the kids enjoy every lesson and their parents are satisfied. I design activities for each picture book far beyond what the text can provide. My reading classes are integrated with all other skills training – listening, speaking, writing, even singing and painting as well as sports. Students learn by doing, learn by participating, learn by independence and cooperation. All activities serve the aim of using English appearing in the picture books.
5 What’s the next challenge for you as a teacher?
Actually I regard myself as a teacher researcher. The challenge ahead is to train the student teachers with efficiency and efficacy. Only by arming more future teachers with the reasonable second language learning theories and sufficient practice, and only when the teachers understand what is the good way of teaching and what is really beneficial for students, can the millions of school students and adult learners have chance to enjoy learning English rather than being forced to learn it.