Briercrest students to fill the English language gap in Hong Kong

Posted: July 6, 2010

By Amy Robertson

Twelve Briercrest students will spend five weeks teaching English in Hong Kong. Left to right, back: Marianne Barker, Maria Buddingh, Teresa Hiebert, Christina Hiebert, Greg Smith, Debbie Mackenzie, Karalyn McMann. Middle: Ginger McColl, Gina Bak. Front: Robyn Epp, Elizabeth Gruber, Amber Durocher. Submitted photo.

team of Briercrest College and Seminary students will spend six weeks filling the English language teaching gap in Hong Kong this summer.

Most of Hong Kong’s English courses focus almost exclusively on reading and writing rather than speaking and listening, which means many Hong Kong students aren’t able to communicate in English.

Twelve Briercrest students want to fix that.

They will teach English verbal communication and listening skills to children ages 9-15 through classes and music, drama, and sporting activities at five week-long camps sponsored by a social enterprise organization in Hong Kong that has partnered with Briercrest.

The group consists of Gina Bak, Marianne Barker, Amber Durocher, Robyn Epp, Debbie Mackenzie, Ginger McColl, and Karalyn McMann, all second-year TESOL students; Christina Hiebert, Gregory Smith, and Maria Buddingh, all non-TESOL students; and Teresa Hiebert and Elizabeth Gruber, both senior TESOL students who will act as team leaders.

“The organization is excited about the prospect of having a significant impact in Hong Kong this summer and is already talking about next summer in light of the many requests from Hong Kong schools for summer teaching which simply could not be met this year,” said Dr. David Catterick, a TESOL professor at Briercrest who spent several days in Hong Kong in June finalizing details for the project.

The optional trip, designed to further second-year TESOL students’ teaching experience, is a precursor to the internship that all of Briercrest’s TESOL students complete after their third year. Those who complete the pre-internship will finish their degrees with more than 200 hours of teaching experience.

By comparison, many condensed TESOL programs offer as few as 10 hours of teaching experience.

“It is an amazing opportunity in cross-cultural experience and also as a professional one,” Teresa Hiebert, one of the group leaders, said. “This trip provides first-hand experience engaging all of the senses and cementing the classroom theory we receive at Briercrest. My hope is that this trip goes very well so that we may establish a relationship with this organization and solidify this program to students for years to come.”

“I’m looking forward to rounding off the large variety of teaching contexts I’ve been able to teach in through the TESOL program at Briercrest,” Elizabeth Gruber, the other team leader, said. “This opportunity is teaching young children, and that is an area we don’t get into for practicums and internships. I’m excited to see what it will be like!”

The sponsoring organization will pay for the trip in full and provide the students with a small stipend for personal expenses.

They start teaching July 12 and will be at a different school each week. They will return to Canada August 15.