With ever changing environments we are engaging with both the domestic and international community to meet the growing needs of delivering high quality English language programs. Below is just some of the news we are involved in to meet global demands.
Expanding Education Opportunities for Emerging English Speakers in Asia
During March 2011, the Centre for English Teaching (CET) at the University of Sydney played host to a group of 70 students from Japan’s Tohoku University who were visiting Australia to attend classes to improve their English language skills. Then, disaster struck. An intense 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit the region in north-eastern Japan and combined with a ferocious tsunami to claim more than 15,000 lives.
The Centre for English Teaching worked closely with the students, and Japanese authorities, to contact their families and assist their return home when it was safe. Students and teachers also raised more than $2000 for the Australian Red Cross Japan Disaster Appeal.
The following year a group of 13 students from Tohoku University returned to Sydney to take part in an intensive English language course exploring physics and mathematical concepts funded by the Prime Minister’s Education Assistance Program for Japan. “They came a year later and we helped them prepare presentations about their experience with the earthquake. They presented to many of our students and local Australian students. It was extremely moving and very powerful,” said Patrick Pheasant, Director of the Centre for English Teaching and Vice-President of University of English Centres of Australia (UECA). “Through our programs we’re able to give them the voice to talk about such complex things and express those types of emotions. The students want to come back and share those experiences.”
Rather than focus on the tragedy, the Japanese students, showing brilliant displays of resilience, and a deep desire to engage with the wider international community returned to Australia to share their experiences and conduct a cultural exchange through the learning of English. A number of these students returned later to Australia to undertake postgraduate degrees at the University of Sydney.
This month, along with 18 representatives from University of English Centres of Australia (UECA), Mr Pheasant will visit Japan, Korea and Taiwan. The group aims to encourage students to visit Australia for study abroad programmes and working holidays including specialized internships and work placements. “There is a massive increase in students who want to get a chance to work overseas, either in their gap year or by taking six months during their degree program to study and travel in Australia,” Mr Pheasant said.
The UECA delegation will meet with representatives from universities in Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo and Osaka to discuss developing partnerships in research and teacher training programs.
As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) prepares to launch its economic community in 2015, the master plan has already determined the imperative to learn English as all business, trade and exchange between nations will be conducted in the language. No one wants to be left behind.
Within this strategic environment, Asian governments are investing strongly in English teaching and encouraging students to visit English-speaking countries. They recognise the distinct potential in being able to communicate in English which provides better opportunities for citizens when it comes to competing for employment and economic development in the current global climate.
The programs at the University of Sydney Centre for English Teaching, which hosts approximately 2,500 students from more than 50 countries each year, help students develop English language skills through immersion in subject content relevant to their degrees. Using an interactive student model the centre provides a variety of programs such as faculty specific programs across 12 disciplines including high demand programs in Engineering, Health Sciences, and Education and Social Work. “When we get a group of international academics who come and study with us, we invite Australian academics to collaborate with us on the content material,” Mr Pheasant said.
The professional development programs offer students the opportunity to learn language and skills for specific areas of the workplace including critical thinking, meetings, networking, project management and managing up in English. These skills are then able to be practiced through internship and work experience opportunities.
“It’s much more than their experience of in-country learning where the emphasis may be on grammar and rote learning,” Mr Pheasant said. “Very few of our programs are only about teaching just those elements; our programs are about teaching methodologies, techniques and developing professional competencies in English.”