This August, I was invited to join an English exchange seminar in Xingning with Ms Candy Chan, the principal of Hoi Pa Street Government Primary School and Ms Cecilia Chan, the founder of Bravo Learning. The exchange seminar was sponsored by Mr Cheung Hing Wah, director of Association of Natives of Xingning and Mr Stephen Lee, member of Xingning Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (興寧市 政協委員). Both of them are very generous and have devoted a lot in education. Mr Stephen Lee was also responsible of organizing this exchange seminar.
Xingning is a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Meizhou City, Guangzhou Province, China. It is about 6-7 hours driving distance from Hong Kong. This is the first time for Xingning to have formal English exchange seminar with Hong Kong teachers. We acted as pioneers to explore the opportunities for more academic exchange. Upon our arrival, we were warmly welcomed by the government officials. Everything was well prepared, including the hotel, transportation and food.
During the exchange, we visited many primary and secondary schools, including Xingning Shi Di Yi Xiao Xue (興寧市第一小學), Xingning Shi Di Yi Zhong Xue (興寧市第一中學), Xingning Nibei Xiao Xue (興寧坭陂小學), Xingning Nibei Zhong Xue (興寧坭陂中學) and Xingning Huang Ling Xiao Xue (興寧黃岭小學). Through visiting these schools and talking with the educators, principals and teachers in the schools, we had a better understanding of their English curriculum, the learning environment and their students.
We had a seminar with over 250 English teachers in Xingning. During the seminar, Ms Cecilia Chan shared with them on how to use English phonics to read, Ms Candy Chan shared with them on how to use stories to enhance students' creativity and critical thinking, and I shared with them on how to create an English-rich environment to enhance English learning. The teachers in Xingning were all very active throughout the whole seminar and they contributed and shared a lot of their ideas. They found the sharing very inspiring and useful for them. Each of us was presented a certificate of appreciation by the director of Education Department and we received very positive comments from them.
Besides the school visits and the seminar, we had a lot of cultural exposure. We were invited to Cheung Hing Wah Education Fund presentation ceremony at Convention Hall Xingning. We visited Xingning Official Television Station and we had the chance talking with the director and singing in the recording studio. We also had the chance to meet and talk with the Deputy Mayor, the director of the Education Department and leaders of various government departments. Xingning emphasizes and devotes a lot of resources on education and it is interesting to find that the salary of teachers is higher than the government officials. The officials showed great support and they also discussed with us on the future plans of the exchange seminar.
Since the return of Hong Kong to China, there has been an increasing emphasis on the academic exchange amongst teachers in Hong Kong and China. There has been a lot of exchange programmes conducted in major cities in China, like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. However, there are relatively less exchange opportunities for subordinate cities. This precious exchange experience is really inspiring and fruitful for me. I believe it would be beneficial for teachers to have more exposure and experience like this.
Ms Jenny Ho