By: Wong Tuck Cheong
The second batch of Australian student-teachers to visit HELP University under the Global Student program were treated to an evening of familiarization with the Malaysian education system and sharing of experiences with HELP Bachelor of Early Childhood Education students. The group of 39 student-teachers are currently doing a 3-week teaching practicum in primary and secondary schools in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. They were accompanied by 3 lecturers from the RMIT University and Deakin University. Their practicum in Malaysia is facilitated by the New Colombo Plan, a major initiative of the Australian government aimed at enriching knowledge and experience of the Indo-Pacific by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the region.
Beginning with a welcome tea and ending with dinner, the program succeeded in forging bonds of friendship as well as providing insights into the Malaysian and Australian systems of school education for the Australian and Malaysian trainee-teachers. It follows on the heels of the first program held in January 2015 which proved to be an unqualified success, as the following testimonial from the leader of the first visit Dr Wendy Warren shows:
“The workshop helped students to understand the issues around teaching English. It coupled very well with the talks given by Dr Chan and all the HELP academics because the generational changes and cultural differences around speaking English are very insightful to Australian students who come to Malaysia with very little experience of other Englishes.
“It has given me new respect and admiration for the new generation of teacher education students who are taking on a very different world to the one I started teaching in…I hope HELP continues to be involved – it is worth it!”
Dr Hannah Pillay, head of the English Department at HELP, briefs the visitors on the state of English teacher training in Malaysia.
Dr Rohan Nethsinghe, Lecturer in Music Education at RMIT University, talks about teacher training in Australia.
Dr Julie Faulkner, senior lecturer at Monash University, talks about the pedagogy of teacher education at Australian universities; she is the author of a standard text Disrupting Pedagogies in the Knowledge Society: Countering Conservative Norms with Creative Approaches (Oxford UP, 2011).
Dr Rod Neilsen, from the School of Education, Deakin University, gives instructions for the TESL ice-breaker and sharing session between HELP BECE students and the Australian visitors.
Cassidy McDonald (right), who is specializing in the teaching of Chinese, in a sharing session with enthusiastic HELP BECE and Australian trainee-teachers. Cassidy is a film buff, and took our nicknaming him “Butch” in good spirit. He is doing his teaching practicum at the Methodist Boys’ School in Kuala Lumpur.
Two HELP BECE students (right) listen intently to fellow trainee-teachers before sharing notes with them.
HELP BECE student Seng Lat Ja (right), from Myanmar, commands the attention of her group members as she presents her take on Dr Rod Neilsen’s TESL assignment.
This group found that a wefie is the most handy way to seal the bonds of their newly formed friendship.