Peking University launches a training program for teaching assistants of English-taught courses

Peking: Peking University held a two-day online session featuring the improvement of teaching excellence for teaching assistants in English-taught courses. Zhu Erping, associate director of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT), University of Michigan, gave the first lecture. Tian Jianqiu, associate professor from the School of Foreign Languages of Peking University gave the second talk.

This event was co-organized by the Center for Excellent Teaching and Learning, Office of International Relations, Office of Educational Administration, School of Foreign Languages, and Yenching Academy. It is open to all teaching assistants who are involved in PKU Summer School International (PKUSSI) and other schools with English-taught courses, aiming to improve the quality of these courses and offer students better learning experience. More than 70 teaching assistants from different schools and departments have signed up.

On May 29, Sun Hua, director of the Center for Excellent Teaching and Learning, Liu Jianbo, vice director of the Office of Educational Administration, and Zhou Manli, vice director of the Office of International Relations, attended the launching ceremony of the training program.

At the ceremony, Liu Jianbo introduced the overall situation of the English-taught courses for undergraduates and regulations for teaching assistants. He said that Peking University has offered more than 320 English-taught, non-language related courses for undergraduates as of the end of 2019. In the future, the University will develop more English-taught courses as platforms to boost intercultural exchanges and enhance the international outlook of students.

Zhou Manli gave a presentation on the development of PKU’s English-taught courses from an international perspective. She introduced Peking University’s Global Excellence Strategy and the efforts to cultivate global-minded students, including setting up PKUSSI, providing a series of courses on Chinese Studies, offering English-taught courses in all schools and departments, and establishing internationalized schools such as Yenching Academy and the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development. She encouraged teaching assistants to enhance their teaching ability and cross-cultural communication skills through this training program.

Sun Hua introduced the support provided by the Center for Excellent Teaching and Learning and explained the concepts behind the program. He said that the Center provides diverse, continuous and practical support for teachers and teaching assistants. For example, with student midterm feedback, they can discuss strategies to improve teaching effect. Additionally, the Center is going to hold online international teaching workshops in cooperation with academics from Columbia University, Harvard University, University College London, and Waseda University.

Lai Linjuan, vice director of the Division for Foreign Experts, representative of the International Students Division, Office of International Relations, introduced the newly established Peking University International Summer Institute (PKUISI) and the basic requirements for teaching assistants. The establishment of PKUISI is based on previous operation experience of PKUSSI over years. With the theme of “A Journey to China from Your Room”, PKUISI is open to international students and those at PKU. Against this backdrop, there are requirements for those who want to apply for teaching assistants, and necessary training and support will be available.

After the ceremony, Zhu Erping delivered the first training lecture titled “How to make your teaching more inclusive?” In the lecture, she illustrated the concepts of inclusive teaching and its four main principles, which are transparency, academic belonging, structured interactions, and engaging difference, to discuss the strategies of practicing inclusive teaching. According to the teaching assistants, this lecture was very helpful and they will use the techniques in their subsequent teaching practice.

On the morning of May 30, Tian Jianqiu conducted an online workshop titled “Lecturing and holding discussions in English” for teaching assistants. It combined lectures and exercises, organizing teaching assistants to make self-introduction, give mini lectures, and join in simulated discussions. Tian also presented them with common English sentences and vocabulary in lectures and discussion activities. In the workshop, teaching assistants actively participated in these online group exercises. They all said that they would continue to practice English and gear up for the English-taught courses.