Thursday, August 4, 2011

Manchester University and Chinese English Teachers' refresher course

Chinatown Manchester - the arch way welcoming you in. It's quite a large quarter, not as old as Liverpool's though.

Me and the gentlemen teachers :)

And, me and a lady student :)

Yesterday my bit of the teachers' refresher course with the Chinese Centre for Scholarly exchange and the University Language Centre finished. I had a great time in many ways. My role was to deliver input on British Cultural Studies, Teaching and Learning, and Advanced English Language.

The teachers were from universities across China, including Bejing, Shanghi and some from Chairman Mao's hometown. They taught English literature, linguistics, history, cultural studies, and language, among other things, and were mega enthusiastic, as for 95%, it was their first time in an English speaking context. They were passionate shoppers, the ladies at least, and were astonished by the cheap price of clarks (made in China)! One interesting thing I noted was when asked about good, typical things to buy as souvenirs for people I couldn't name a single thing 'typically British / English / Manchunian' that was made here. From my travels around, there always seems to be a local handicraft, in Bulgaria there were the ladies who wove and spun and sold outside Alexander Nevski. In Thailand this kind of thing was bountiful, everything was locally made. In Syria there were the blue, evil eye things, prayer beads, all sorts. Even in Switzerland you could get a cheap Swiss army knife for £10. I was stumped and suggested a Manchester football top, made in Vietnam, and then books, and music, at least probably conceived locally. I am not sure if this is a product of me having been away for so long, let me know what you would suggest, non-edible. They are off to Edinburgh next week and I am pretty sure they won't be disappointed on this front, tartan teddies etc...

This reflection ties into the work I did on the British Cultural Studies with them. I presented the UK, in one lecture as a group of islands that have grown and influenced through migration. It's a presentation I first gave in Bulgaria in 2007, when BG first joined the EU. It was well received at the time and it was great to re-work it and add sections on Chinese UK migrations.

Apart from British Cultural Studies, I also was involved in input sessions on 'advanced language'. Essentially this was teaching idiomatic and colloquial language. This was possibly the weakest part of my work. I did a dictogloss that told a story but this was riddled with unfamiliar idioms, and lacked context. It needed a series of pictures, a movie, or a broader context to offer support. This was also weak due to the nature of this language. How often will these guys, or their students use 'pop your clogs' for example....It was quite fun, they liked the quiz, drawing, and the other recycling activities, but I think whether or not to actually these language items needs reconsidering.

The final section on teaching and learning was enjoyable, and motivating. The teachers were complementary about how I managed their participation, and varied the interaction. However, when asked to reflect on how doable these techniques / activities were in their context, the answers were usually negative. Also, in this section there could have been a journal keeping task, with prompts for response to. This could link to student journals and how to manage and encourage constant reflection on learning.

It was an absolute privilege and I look forward to working in China, one day.


  1. Hi Edward,
    I am glad you all enjoyed the course. I wonder if you asked trhem why their responses were negative "when asked to reflect on how doable these techniques / activities were in their context". Many teachers are afraid of trying out new techniques in their classes, maybe that's the reason why responded in that way.

  2. Hi Ed
    Were you able to use EDUC70040 input for your course?

  3. hi Fiona, in many ways it helped doing the intercultural things, but I think the teacher education modules really gave me the confidence to pursue this interest. In terms of cultural stuff, I was able to spot myself doing 'objective' culture, and could relate to my DMIS stuff, so yeah, applying theory / theorizing practice, yes! I am hoping to see Dr Fay play some music on Thursday night :)

    Hi Isil too, gosh, I am a slow coach on this stuff. Mainly, they said they couldn't do these kind of activities, because of their large class sizes, and noise issues. No one mentioned fear, per se, but you wouldn't expect that. It'll be interesting, to hear some more feedback from the group once they return to their workplaces. I am mighty glad you stopped by and thanks for the comments :) Check out my pre-sessional English group's blog - it's going pretty well :)

  4. It's Thursday so enjoy the music!