EXCELLENCE IN TEACHING
NEW LANGUAGE OPPORTUNITIES STATE-WIDE THANKS TO AWARD-WINNING TEACHER
A pioneering program connecting students’ learning about the Chinese language and culture with jobs in the tourism and hospitality industries is ready to be introduced across the state, thanks to an inspirational finalist in state teaching awards.
Yeronga State High School Experienced Senior Teacher Song Huang, who set up the Chinese language program at Yeronga in 2014, won first prize in 2018 at Xiamen University for his international teaching techniques. His passion for teaching, and his students’ learning, is palpable.
“I love teaching. Every day when I get up and I go to work, I just feel so energetic. I feel so rewarded; teaching is my passion,” Mr Huang said. “With my knowledge, I want to help build a bridge between Australia and China. Nowadays, we need to help students to be connected internationally, and I think I can play that role in society,” he said.
In late 2017, Mr Huang became the first teacher in Queensland to introduce the Certificate II in Applied Languages, which provides students with a Vocational Education and Training qualification while working in tourism and hospitality. To introduce the Certificate, he set up a partnership with the Victorian School of Languages. He also worked in collaboration with QUT – Confucius Institute and had support from local business communities, Trade and Investment Queensland, and Education Queensland International.
Through the course, Mr Huang’s students have provided tourist information to Chinese-speaking guests at Lone Pine in Brisbane. The Certificate has since been taught at Merrimac State High School on the Gold Coast. Prior to COVID-19, talks were underway for it to be introduced in Cairns, Townsville, Hervey Bay and more schools across Queensland.
Mr Huang’s persistence and commitment to providing students with real-world learning opportunities, and his outstanding engagement with his students and parents, are just some of the reasons he is a finalist for this year’s Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Excellence in Teaching Award.
“A lot of people around the world – in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and more places around the world – they speak Chinese,” Mr Huang says. “I think it’s very important for young people to connect with the local international community. I use the Chinese language to equip students,” he said.
His students, including some who did not speak English as a first language when they arrived at Yeronga State High School, are regular winners of state language awards. One former refugee, who has gone on to win national and international Chinese speaking awards and a scholarship, has attributed her success to Mr Huang’s teaching. Mr Huang speaks proudly of all of his students, noting that one is now his dentist, and another is his bank manager. “I get to see our young people help society in the future,” he said.
Mr Huang is renowned for his student and parent engagement. His students sing songs, perform plays and regularly take part in speaking competitions. While schools were teaching remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions, he provided video and audio resources and communications to welcome his students each week, and QUT provided incentive awards to pupils for engaging in his online lessons.
A former translator, he also leads a group of Chinese teachers in southeast Queensland collaborating on senior curriculum, invites parents to Yum Cha and instils in pupils the Chinese cultural practice of honouring their elders, telling them: “When you grow up, when you make money – you must respect your parents”.
“When I have parent-teacher interviews I keep telling parents, ‘You are doing a wonderful job – without your support your children would never achieve things’. We also invite parents to the student speech competitions, so all of the parents will come along to see how other schools are doing – and Yeronga State High School always features in awards – so I can say, ‘Look, your hard work, it has paid off,” he said.
The winners of the TEACHX Awards will be announced on 29 October, on the eve of World Teachers’ Day in Australia.