Learning English is not necessarily confined to classroom or textbook teaching. As an initiative of President Professor Stephen Cheung, The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK) started the International Tutors Scheme since 2014/15 to internationalise the university campus and enrich students’ learning experience with culture.
Most of the international tutors are fresh university graduates recruited from overseas to join EdUHK students in language learning activities, co-curricular activities and intercultural events. The tutors reside with the students in the residence halls facilitating and helping to build an English language environment in student halls and provide opportunities for students to practise speaking English.
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A different kind of learning
Dr Pamela Leung, Associate Professor at the Department of Chinese Language Studies and Head of the Centre for Language in Education, works together with the Student Affairs Office to administer the scheme at EdUHK.
“Personal interaction between the tutors and the students offers a different kind of learning from textbook learning. The scheme is now in its fourth year, and the integration of the tutors into our campus has been a very natural and organic process,” Dr Leung explained.
The tutors run a series of cultural and academic workshops, as well as consultations throughout the week, a daily English Cafe plus other language activities. The daytime activities are more structured and designed to encourage students to participate and enhance their general English skills, while in the residence halls, students are encouraged to participate in fun social events.
“There is a good mix of classroom learning as well as less formal interaction with the international tutor team,” Dr Leung said. “The tutors also work with students to improve their English skills for the IELTS examination.”
The IELTS examination is the world’s most popular English language test assessing English skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking. The test results are accepted by organisations worldwide including governments, academic institutions and organisations requiring English. For immigration to countries that require English language, IELTS is the only English language test that is accepted.
“I see the effect the International Tutors Scheme has had on students. Education doesn’t just happen in the classroom. People interacting with people brings about learning. We put together the ingredients and create something truly amazing,” Dr Leung said. “The learning is not one-sided though. The students are learning, the international tutors are learning and as a teacher and a facilitator, I am also learning. Everyone offers something to the mix.”
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Belinda, an international tutor from the East Coast of the United States, said that since she arrived in Hong Kong last August, she has learnt a lot more about different parts of Hong Kong. She also observed that, “A lot of the students here, even if they are not from the same year or programme of study, are quite close to each other. They are like family to one another. It’s nice, and different from my own university experience.”
For 2017-2018, the international tutors are from Finland, Germany, Mali, the Netherlands, Poland, the United States and the Ukraine and stay for 10 months. They are a multilingual group with a broad range of backgrounds and cultural exposure, and have become part of the EdUHK family.
Find out more about the programmes on offer at www.eduhk.hk/degree