Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Zhaohui Gong

MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages | 2016 - 2017

Photo of Zhaohui Gong

Please tell us a bit about yourself, where you are from, your background etc?
I come from Wuhan, China. I had worked as a TESOL teacher and teacher trainer in private language schools for eight years before I chose to pursue the MA TESOL programme.

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
Eight years of working afforded me plenty of practical experience in my field, but I felt I lacked a theoretical framework to help me evaluate and interpret my pedagogical practices. Therefore, I decided to pursue an MA programme in TESOL in the hope of expanding my theoretical knowledge. I chose to apply for a Leeds programme not just because it was ranked top in the UK but also because the Leeds graduates I knew felt proud of being Leeds alumni.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?
First of all, I am passionate about my job (teaching and teacher training) because I can help my students and teacher trainees to be better and I can learn enormously from them as well. In addition, TESOL modules on the MA programme are closely related to my job, so I really had great passion for the area of study. Although studying TESOL did not directly solve the problems or puzzles that I encountered in my job, it helped me establish theoretical frameworks for my teaching and teacher training so that I can have a broader view and can think in more complex ways. The courses also gave me new inspirations and promote self-reflection, thus facilitating my career development.

What did you think of your course – what aspects of the course have you enjoyed the most?
I enjoyed almost all of the modules offered such as Approaches and Contexts, Second Language Acquisition and Teaching Oral and Written Skills in TESOL. These modules have helped me establish theoretical frameworks for language learning, teaching and teacher learning, and as a result I now feel more confident about what I do. I also find the module assignments interesting, although having to meet the deadline could be daunting. The module essays and dissertation pushed me to develop skills in academic writing and deepened my understanding of what doing research looks like. Once we have surmounted the challenges and achieved good results, we would find the process highly rewarding.

What would you say about the learning facilities in the School and at the University in general?
The facilities are great. I particularly like the Virtual Learning Environment (Minerva) which allows me to easily access course-related materials such as handouts and assigned readings. This makes learning highly flexible.

How did you find the student support in the School?
The student support team are very helpful. For example, when I emailed them to inquire about how to cope with a situation where I could not meet the deadline of assignment submission, they responded quickly and provided helpful suggestions. Also, the academic staff are professional, helpful, and supportive. Without their support, I would not have been able to achieve good results in my MA studies.

What do you think about Leeds as a city?
Leeds is a very cosmopolitan city where you can see people from all around the world. Life is Leeds is really convenient with the university being located in the city centre. Also, there is a Chinese restaurant just outside of the main entrance of the university which offers authentic Chinese food. This is important for Chinese students!

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
For those who want to pursue a MA TESOL degree, it is important to gain some work experience first and think about the puzzles you have before attending the course. Previous work experience combined with subsequent academic inquiry can generate more ideas and insights.

What do you plan to do now you’ve finished your course? What are you career aspirations?
I’ll continue to work as a teacher and teacher trainer. I look forward to providing better support to teacher trainees to help facilitate their career development. I also hope that I can help more students improve English proficiency, develop good learning habits and boost confidence so they can better cope with the challenges in their future academic lives.

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