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A delegation of eleven teachers of Taichung City went to San Diego University State University for a four-week TEFL program, or Teaching English as a Foreign Language, this summer. Not only did they improve themselves in terms of English competence and teaching effectiveness, they also represented Taichung and actively participated in many activities, like paying a visit to the Speaker of the City Council, to enhance the relationship between these two sister cities.
The program consisted of many pragmatic and innovative courses, such as Communicative Approach, Mind Mapping, Using Music to Enhance Learning, Reciprocal Vocabulary Teaching and so on. For example, there was a class utilizing Lego to create an English speaking environment so that students can overcome language phobia and really begin to communicate in English in such a fun way. Most of the classes were conducted so interactively that everyone had to be engaged in every task assigned by the lecturers.
Several school visits , ranging from elementary schools all the way to universities, were also arranged to provide a more vivid and panoramic perspective of how American teachers devise intriguing activities to involve most of the students in class. For example, students were told to work as groups and looked online for information, and each member all contributed to the group performance which later on would be evaluated by both the teacher and students.
Of course, actual language practice with locals and cultural experiences was also one of the main events of this trip. Many useful expressions that you rarely see in our textbooks were naturally picked up during our brief stay. After class, you can also mingle with completely strangers in the bar and have a casual talk about Taiwan. Or, you can take the subway to Balloba Park or Old Town to get a glimpse of the typical American way of life in the afternoon.
Coming back to Taiwan with so many happy memories and fruitful reflections on our own teaching, this unique learning experience did have such an impact on how we do our job now. On top of that, Gloria, 林秀慧, was invited to do an oral presentation and shared in an important meeting, in which high-ranking city government officials decide major English education policies of Taichung City, about what she has learned in the States, calling for further investment in subsidizing more teachers to study abroad and bring back more innovative ideas and techniques to benefit our students.