Teaching the teachers to teach - and more

Volunteers, professionals and secondary teachers attending a 'teach the teachers' workshop in Mainland China

“Before the trip, I was so nervous, I am afraid that I am too shy to socialize with others in English, cannot lead my team well as a small teacher, cannot reach others’ expectations… I was flooded with worries.”

Reflects Chloe, one participant of the English training workshop in Xinhui for English teachers from Mainland China. Responding to requests for assistance, every year, Amity Foundation Hong Kong invites overseas volunteer professionals, Hong Kong English teachers, young volunteers with high proficiency to run summer English courses for mainland teachers. This year more than 100 junior secondary English teachers across Xin Hui District participated in an intense training camp lasting seven days. Besides lively talks, action-based workshops and one-on-one diagnostic sessions, English drama and talents quest type of activities helped teachers learn the language the “fun” way. Furthermore, “micro-teaching” sessions allowed teachers to practice the pedagogical skills they have acquired.

“I am thankful for the support and the precious opportunity for junior secondary English teachers from Xinhui to get this wonderful professional training. The programme provides a platform for Mainland teachers to exchange ideas with professionals from Hong Kong and other nations,” says Chen Guixia, Head of the District Education Bureau.

Participants interacting in action-based workshops

From the exit questionnaire, the teachers participating have gained much by way of methodologies and philosophies beneficial to their teaching in future. As in the past, the volunteers have also found the experience enlightening.

“Trips like these are so important to me - I always learn something new, and it's all because I was given the chance to work with such wonderful, compassionate people. Here I would like to give special thanks to our Amity leaders as they did a very good demonstration of how we should treat others with great love and passion,” says Meliza, a volunteer doing similar work for the fifth time.

In keeping with Bishop Ting’s vision of people to people contact to bring about a more harmonious world, such programmes provide an unique window for capacity building in everyone.

“To the foreign teachers and students who had gone on this journey with me, throughout communicating and interacting with you all, you have given me various pieces of invaluable suggestions and an unbreakable bond of friendship which would sustain forever,” says Isaac Liang, another participant. Then he adds “Last but not least, I think that throughout this expedition of ‘learning English’, we all have broadened our horizon and acquired new skills which we would require in the future of our lives.”

Part of the program is an English drama evening

Ryan, one volunteer from Hong Kong points out the rare opportunity of mutual learning and building bridges to the Mainland: “This trip turned out to be even more inspiring than I originally thought. Seeing the teachers desperately trying to improve made me think that there were still a lot of things in myself that I could take it up a notch. I also need to hone my teaching methods, train my patience and be more organized. Most of the young people in the group have become friends with each other. Such opportunities hardly come by and again, I feel very grateful for that. Friends like them are like mirrors. They reflect yourself right into your eyes. They are not afraid to point out the flaws to you, telling you the goods and the bads that you have never noticed before. We shared a great deal of fabulous time there and honestly, I would not mind going on a second trip. At the end of the day, I still enjoy helping others.”

Chloe, the participant who was rather anxious about her performance at the beginning, later reflected in the workshop’s evaluation as follows:

“I remembered my first conversation with one of the foreign teachers in our team, I stuttered a little, but she smiled and waited. Maybe she would think that it was just a normal act of politeness, but it encouraged me a lot. No doubt that I have learnt a lot of practical skills in this trip, but the positive attitude towards obstacles I have learnt is much more valuable. Thanks to the kindness and patience of everyone in the team, I care less about what I have done wrongly, it is the eagerness to improve and grow that matters.”

The workshop is building bridges and friendships

Bella sums up the situation well in writing:

Not only did I learn soft skills, but I also acquire the ability to communicate with those who have different cultures.”

That many of the past participants are still in touch after many years through the social media is testimony to the power of the vision of Amity’s forefathers.