Name: Michelle Hsu
Trinity qualification: Teaching Young Learners Extension Certificate (TYLEC)
Michelle is a TYLEC qualified English language teacher and teacher trainer from Taiwan. She talked to us about her experiences of teaching English, and the impact gaining the TYLEC qualification has had on her career.
Michelle started learning English at school around 40 years ago.
“I would say I was taught in a very traditional way - most teachers back then would do grammar translation. I was lucky. My teacher was strict, but she was a very good teacher, so I studied hard, and I learned English well.”
Michelle believes her experiences in primary school played an important part in shaping the teacher she grew to become.
“Many teachers would say my class was a bad class – the students were not well-behaved, and some teachers had trouble with classroom management. They didn't tell us what we should or should not do.”
“I would say it wasn’t really the students’ fault because we would like to obey or follow the rules.
Although Michelle enjoyed learning English at school, it was a trip overseas at the age of 17 that really sparked her passion for the language.
“I had a chance to go to America and stay with a family for almost a month. Whenever I learned something new, I would think about how or where I could use it. I would try to find a context to make my learning meaningful. That's the way I learned English.”
Feeling inspired, Michelle returned to Taiwan and made a decision about her future career.
“In Taiwan being a teacher means you can have a very stable career. You don't have to worry that much about your future, and I liked English. So when I was around 17 to 18, I thought yes, I would like to be an English teacher!”
Michelle managed to get a grant to study Education and English Literacy at university, and not long after graduating, she was assigned to her first school.
“I remember the first day- because I was new and young, the school assigned a special class for me - they were the students who were not very well behaved!
Michelle drew from her own experiences as a student and quickly discovered that classroom management was a strength of hers.
“Even some senior teachers would say I was quite a special teacher because I just got a handle on all these things about students, but at that time, I would question myself.”
“I was good in classroom management, but how about teaching in English? How about the teaching language part? Although, at that time, I had learned some teaching methods and theories, such the communicative approach, I didn't know how to practice it in my real classroom.”
Over the years, Michelle’s confidence in her skills developed to the point that, after about 10 years, she became an advisor for a local Teacher Advisors Group in Taiwan.
“I enjoy the role of being an advisor because I would say I learn more than those I advise! I can share my experience, but I can also learn from them.”
Being part of the group meant that Michelle has access to more training opportunities. One of these came in 2017, when she was invited to attend a TYLEC workshop organised by the British Council in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.
“I learned so much from the workshops. The trainer demonstrated a lot of activities and skills, but I think the most important part was about motivation building and attitude building.”
“When I returned to my school, I still remember how I sat in front of the computer for 10 hours just thinking about how I could use the techniques I learned from the workshop and to integrate all the techniques into my classroom.”
Michelle started to notice a change in her classes right away.
“All the students were engaged, and they were willing to participate so I could see the power and the impact that training brought.”
Motivated by the development she felt from the first workshop, Michelle decided to study for the full TYLEC qualification.
“It’s quite intense, but this was a really precious experience. I would say it's kind of treasure in my teaching experience - attending TYLEC was the best investment I have ever made!”
“The trainers helped me to plan my lessons differently and they gave me another way to examine my class and my teaching. I also learned what I can do to make students gain more autonomy.”
“I would also like to say classmates are important too – I learned from them, and we helped each other.”
Michelle has no plans to slow down any time soon.
“I have been teaching for 30 years and I can retire, but I was thinking, actually, that maybe with the certificate of TYLEC I could teach in some in different countries. I really enjoy teaching the young learners!”