Nurturing Second Language Teaching Professionals and More
English Language has been a core subject in the Hong Kong school curriculum for more than a century. As English is one of the official languages in Hong Kong and Chinese-English bilingualism has become a hallmark of this international city, the qualification requirements of English teachers have been the focus of public attention.
In 2008, the Faculty of Education restructured its BEd (Language Education) Programme in response to higher expectation on and requirements of registered English teachers. The restructuring resulted in the launch of the new Bachelor of Arts (English Studies) and Bachelor of Education (English Language Education) (ELED) Co-terminal Double Degree Programme.
Aiming at nurturing competent language teachers with sound subject knowledge and a firm pedagogical grip, the five-year full-time ELED programme focuses on three major disciplines: English language and literature, educational issues, and English language teaching methodology.
Graduates of the programme will be awarded two degrees: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education, including a recognition equivalent to a Postgraduate Diploma in Education qualification. They are considered to have met the HKSAR Government’s Language Proficiency Requirement and exempted from the Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers of English (LPATE) at Level 3.
Among the 10 required courses on subject knowledge, Acquisition of English as a Second Language introduces major theories and models of second language acquisition and discusses their application in teaching and learning, which is particularly relevant to the local language context. Other courses comprising communications, linguistics, grammar, phonetics, phonology, lexical studies and literature will altogether build a comprehensive language foundation for the students. ELED students also enjoy a liberal choice of electives from more than 60 courses offered by the English Department. They can immerse themselves in their favourite literary genres, or explore the interaction of language and society, or literature and art.
An ELED student Tom Cheng commended highly the cross-Faculty and inter-departmental curriculum design of the programme: ‘We take Subject Knowledge courses offered by the English Department, Educational Studies and Language Teaching Methodology courses by the Faculty of Education, and Language Enhancement courses by the English Language Teaching Unit of the Arts Faculty. The concerted efforts of these departments equip us with enhanced linguistic awareness and extensive knowledge in language and education.’
The ELED programme engages students in a variety of teaching and learning activities. Besides lectures and tutorials, there are case study analysis, critique of recorded lessons and micro-teaching. The laboratory-based learning is complemented by field experience gained via school visits, school attachment, and lesson observation and teaching practice.
Programme Coordinator Prof. Eunice Tang explained how teaching practice is scheduled: ‘A variety of pre-Teaching Practice experiences will be organized in the first three years of study. In the fourth and final years, a total of 14 weeks of Teaching Practicum in primary and secondary schools will be arranged for students to conduct English teaching in local schools or international schools.’ Suki Wong, who graduated in 2016, considered the two teaching practices ‘stepping stones that have equipped me with experience to work with a diverse group of students, boosted my confidence in teaching and shaped my teaching philosophy.’
Understanding the needs and expectations of English teachers in the modern classroom, the programme puts a lot of emphasis on providing international perspectives of English language teaching. Tom has joined several outbound teaching trips organized by the Faculty. ‘By observing English lessons and teaching in Beijing and Korea, I gained insight into how English teaching is carried out in other regions, which in turn induced reflection on my own teaching practice.’
Fulfilment of overseas immersion is mandatory for ELED students who will have the opportunity to attend an eight-week overseas programme with the financial support of the HKSAR Government. Tom went to the UK and he is still excited about the trip. ‘Immersing in an English-speaking community not only enhanced my English proficiency, but also allowed me to get a better sense of the culture which breeds the language.’
Language and education aside, ELED students can choose to pursue a minor programme to further explore their interests or broaden their knowledge. In the past, some students have chosen psychology, translation, journalism, fine arts, music, government and public administration, among others. Besides the majority of graduates who become school teachers, some are working with the government as Assistant Education Officers, Executive Officers and Administrative Officers. Nettie Ng, who is now an Administrative Officer in the government, said, ‘The programme’s professional training allows me to prepare better work plans, and communicate effectively with people from all walks of life.’
The small intake of no more than 20 students a year also facilitates a collaborative community of practice. The Platforms for Language Teacher Education (PLaTE) gives the students, graduates and front-line teachers an online dialogic environment for sharing teaching ideas, resources and reflective views. As Tom observed, ‘There is no other programme like ELED in Hong Kong, where you have a strong network consisting of devoted alumni and passionate prospective teachers.’
If you are interested in building solid and sound English knowledge and teaching skills to serve the community, and are prepared to take up challenges in the workplace, ELED is for you.
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018