Interview with Miss. Qiao – Lecturer and Dean’s assistant at Guangzhou college of SCUT

Miss Qiao is a respected lecturer and assistant dean at Guangzhou College of South China University of Technology. With MA  from Sun-Yet-Sen University, she is on a mission to make changes in the lives of the Chinese students.

Ms. Qiao, can you give us a bit of background about yourself?

Yes,sure. I got my bachelor of arts from the foreign languages school of Shanxi University in 2004 and master of arts from the foreign language school of Sun Yat-Sen University.

Do you consider yourself a patient person? How do you increase your patience level in challenging situations?  

I think I am very patient with my students. Actually i don’t have to do anything particular to increase my patience level. I mean, as a teacher, that’s who I am. I have a student who just transferred from the school of economics. Once I asked her to read one paragraph in the text. She just couldn’t open her mouth. Realizing that maybe she couldn’t  well fit in the new class, I spoke to her with a gentle voice in the hope of making her easy. However, it didn’t turn out that way. Eventually, she didn’t read a single word. I let it go in class. But after class, I invited her to my office and had a real conversation about what was going on in class. Since then on, she is so much better than i expected. I could tell that she tried her best to improve.  I am happy for her.

What were the things you had to overcome when you first started as a teacher and how did you overcome those problems?

When I first started as a teacher, I was confronted with a lot of difficulties. For example, as a new teacher, all the courses are new for me. That means I have to be well-prepared for every single class. That was very challenging for a new teacher. Besides, I had to learn how to get along very well with my students. At that time, there was only four years’ age gap between me and my students. I needed to make myself very convincing and qualified as their English teacher. Another obstacle was that I was very easy to get nervous. It was my biggest challenge. I had to remind myself of taking deep breath and smiling at my students.  Back then, it was not easy at all. 

Can you tell us something about Guangzhou College of South China University of Technology?

Guangzhou College of South China University of Technology, originally Guangzhou Auto College, was founded in 2005. The enrollment started in 2006. We had only around 5000 students. There were only 22 English majors in the foreign languages school. Our international communication with the universities abroad was not started until 2009. Our first international program was the exchange program with the Abilene Christian University in Texas, America. As part of the program, two of our teachers were sent to America. I was one of them. 

As a Dean’s assistant, what are your day-to-day responsibilities?

As the Assistant Dean, my responsibilities mainly concern the disciplinary construction, ranging from the construction of knowledge system and curriculum system to the organization of competition relevant with the specialty. Besides, I am also the organizer of lectures for teachers in school of foreign languages. As you know, that since the beginning of this semester, I am also responsible for the foreign teachers in our school. Actually, my job is way beyond that.  Anyway, I am a helping hand for the Dean.  

How do you assess students’ academic performance?

As a teacher, I focus more on the students’ performance for the whole semester, not only the final exam. Usually, my students’ academic performance consists of several parts, their attendance, their individual presentation and group cooperation, and of course their final exam. Right now, their grade of the final exam accounts for only 50% of their final score. From my perspective, it is unfair to decide the students performance based on one single exam. That’s why I prefer to assess the process of their learning.

Given the multitude of responsibilities as Dean’s assistant and Lecturer, how do you manage your time and establish priorities?

Undoubtedly, my hands are tied up. I’ve been trying to strike a balance. I write everything down on my calendar just in case that I may forget something. On one hand, that the deadlines will help me decide my priority. One the other hand, I know my true priority at the bottom of my heart. For example, in the classroom, teaching is my priority. In order to improve my teaching, I am willing to invest time and energy to be a visiting scholar of Guang Dong University of Foreign Studies, even though it means that I am going to be super busy. I will definitely do it.

You also teach Intense English Reading. What are the aims and objectives of your course and could you  share some useful teaching methods? 

This course intends to hone the students’ critical thinking. The objectives include four aspects: language competence, communicative competence, critical thinking and intercultural competence. Right now flipped classroom is very popular. But in teaching practice, only one pedagogy is far from enough. I may adjust my teaching method based on the material I am dealing with. I have adopted task-based teaching, project-based teaching, and so on. 

What are your expectations of the foreign teachers? 

Devotion, passion, patience and cooperation.

As an experienced teacher, how do you handle a student that is either struggling or is completely disinterested in the course/material? 

My teaching philosophy is to arouse the students’ interest in the course. I tried to be considerate and pay even more attention to them and offer more encouragement of their improvement.

Tell us what successes you have had working with diverse populations, including students and colleagues?

I love working with diverse populations very much for the reason that variety and differences I could benefit and learn a lot. In 2015, I’ve been to NHL and delivered a lecture about Chinese culture. My audience consists of students and teachers from various cultural backgrounds. I told Chinese stories in English and learn more about my own culture. Meanwhile, the audience’s response and questions were very challenging and inspiring. The lecture was a success to me. In 2009, I taught about Chinese entrepreneurship to a bunch of American students. That was my first time to conduct a study about Chinese entrepreneurs. It was another success to me. 

Is China a friendly and safe country for foreigners?

Yes, absolutely. Chinese people are very friendly to foreigners and willing to offer help as long as they can speak English. Regarding safety, China is the right place for firearms are banned and the crime rate in China is very low.

What would you recommend to a prospective ESL/EFL teacher?

Be passionate, patient and devoted. Learn to love what they do.

Author: Zach Bahr