Thursday, October 8, 2015

English Advisory Group?

 Dear Akiko, 

There is an English Advisory group in each county/city all over Taiwan. It is comprised of several principals and teachers. We are funded by the Ministry of Education and the Education Bureau of Taichung City to organize workshops, English camps, English competitions and so on. I'm a full-time adviser, who takes care of the budget, plans and pretty much everything, so that's why I have only very few classes to teach a week. Imagine this. Those high-ranking officials from the MOE and Education Bureau sitting behind their desks all want to promote English Education policies, but they have very little knowledge and field experience about English teaching practices. So, what can they do?

They need a group of teachers who are really professional, dedicated and committed to becoming a better English teacher to get the job done. Therefore, I hold workshops for teachers' professional development. This year, we targeted Professional Learning Community, English reading strategies, collaborative lesson planning, incorporating Android/iOS devices in English teaching and so on. Following that, I'm also a member of a committee which specializes in promoting Cooperative Learning to junior high schools around the island, and that's why I usually get invited to do microteaching or teaching demonstrations by many schools. 

You bet my job is really rewarding, for I get to travel to different schools and share what I've learned along the way with so many English teachers outside of my own school in English. Teachers tend to repeat what we've been doing until retirement. However, as a member of the Advisory Group, you have to constantly try out new teaching strategies in your own class before you actually go out and advocate them. Because of this, I think that's the reason why I have more room for ambiguity because you really wouldn't know whether it's good or not until you really give it a try in your class.   

How was I recruited into the Advisory Group? Well, before I became a member, I attended many workshops. Some of them were good, but some were just totally a waste of time, especially when the lecturer created over 50 pages of PowerPoint slides and repeated every single word from them. I was thinking what I would do to make the presentation better if were the lecturer. Over five years ago, when my friend had to do a presentation at a routine assembly of junior high English teachers, I volunteered to do it for him because I wanted to show off my English speaking skills. I made quite an impression probably because  nobody has done this before. A few days later, I got a phone call from the event planner asking whether I would like to join them. 

When you work for the government, inevitably you will have to face some really annoying red tape and bureaucracy. I know the whole system cannot function properly without them. Sometimes I'm really fed up with the bullshit and nonsense from those arrogant and ignorant jerks who think they can condescend to you, but I made myself an indispensable asset with my obsession with English, especially English speaking skills. I enjoy the feeling that when a challenging task comes up and everybody shies away, they know who to turn to. Simply put, it's really great to be needed.



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