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Raising the standard of English language college teaching in rural China

Last summer sixty eight college teachers from Yunnan and Guizhou provinces in rural China were offered a bespoke training programme designed and delivered by members of staff from Applied Linguistics, University of Warwick and the School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU).


This critical outreach programme, made possible by a generous donation from Mr. Liu Sing Cheong, was designed to equip the college teachers with knowledge and expertise to improve the way in which they teach the English language, with the ultimate goal to impact future generations of children in rural China.

Six months after completing the programme we hear from Yang Xiangou, one of the participating college teachers who tells us how this programme has fundamentally changed her approach to teaching, and is already having a demonstrable impact on her students;


Prior to joining the programme I felt alienated and demoralized in my role teaching standardised English courses to college students whose major motivation was to obtain a certificate.

Whenever I failed to deliver the results, and my students failed their course, I was inclined to blame them. However my experiences on the Warwick SJTU English Language Teacher Professional Development Programme was a paradigm shift. I quickly realised the students deserve better. My obsession with content stopped, and I started to focus on teaching itself.

During the intensive immersion in the method and pedagogy of English language teaching, I was put back in a student's seat and got introduced to the essential theories that treat my teaching deficit. I really enjoyed practicing skills – it was just like being a trainee teacher again. In a sense, I was a novice, this programme showed me a teaching culture different to what I am used to.

Teaching demonstration and advice from native speaking English teachers benefitted me a lot. I discovered my weaknesses and strengths as a non-native speaking English teacher. I didn't feel intimidated. Counterintuitively my confidence grows stronger, and I have a clearer vision of what I need to work on and become."

Feedback on the programme from participants and trainers alike was extremely positive and reflects the considerable experience Warwick’s Centre for Applied Linguistics has in relation to the worldwide teaching and learning of English for speakers of other languages. It is the hope and intention of all concerned that the programme delivered in 2017 should be the first of many, and that an associated research project can be developed to evaluate their impact, inform future iterations of the programme, and serve as a model for other such outreach initiatives.