Terence Chiew, From Malaysia, Teaching With BridgeEnglish

From Malaysia

Leveraging his experience in the ELT publishing industry, Terence focuses on inductive learning in his classes, tapping into students’ background knowledge and encouraging autonomy. He also believes collaborative learning is important, teaching a variety of important skills for both language acquisition and the business contexts of his students. Ensuring lessons are current and relevant keeps students engaged and provides the necessary skills and knowledge.

What is your professional and educational background?

I studied English Linguistics at university and worked in educational publishing for 15 years before joining the teaching profession. As a publishing executive, I held various positions, from English Language Teaching Editor to Editorial Manager, and gained essential skills such as organizational skills, attention to detail, planning skills, and mentoring skills which are transferable to my work as a Business English teacher.

Which Bridge Certifications or Micro-credentials have you completed?

I’m still pursuing the Designing Custom Courses and the Teaching IELTS Exam Prep Micro-credentials and hope to complete them soon.

How long have you been teaching with BridgeEnglish?

I have been teaching with Bridge for two years.

How long have you been teaching languages and what inspired you to become a language teacher?

I’ve been teaching English for three years. Before making the switch to teaching, I was an experienced publishing professional specializing in English Language Teaching (ELT) publications, working with top educational publishers such as Pearson and Oxford University Press for 15 years.

In the course of my work, I built strong relationships with local and international ELT educators and kept abreast with the latest developments in the ELT industry. It was during this time as well that I started to develop a strong interest in the ELT profession and toy with the idea of becoming an educator. It wasn’t until I lost my job during the COVID-19 pandemic that I was given the nudge to pursue the CELTA qualification and take up a teaching job full-time, and I haven’t looked back since.

Can you share a memorable experience or success story from your language teaching career?

Before joining BridgeEnglish, I was teaching IELTS preparation to private students. One memorable experience during that time was when I taught a Band 5 student who needed to achieve Band 6 in order to pursue her chosen university course.

I had less than six months to help her achieve her goal, but I took up the challenge head-on and dedicated my efforts towards that end. Thankfully, she was also a diligent and hard-working student. In the end, she surpassed all expectations and scored a Band 7! This experience served as the impetus for me to pursue a long-term career in teaching. It also proved that, in order for language goals to be achieved, commitment is required from not only teachers but also students.

What is your teaching philosophy or approach to helping students learn a new language?

I’m a strong proponent of inductive learning as I believe that students learn best through self-discovery. I promote this kind of learning through the use of elicitation strategies. These strategies are useful for tapping into students’ background knowledge during classroom discussions and for helping students to figure out grammar rules on their own.

Another teaching philosophy that I subscribe to is collaborative learning. As per the social constructivist learning theory, students learn best through social interaction and doing things together. Hence, for group lessons, I always get my students to do pair work. For one-to-one lessons, I take on the role of collaborator as much as possible.

What teaching methods or approaches do you find most effective when teaching Business English to your students?

I always try to help my students make an explicit link between the context of a lesson and their own experiences. It is only then that students would be engaged with the lesson topic on a personal level, and this increases the chances of them staying focused throughout the lesson. For example, if a lesson is about resolving conflicts, I would get my students to talk about their personal experiences in dealing with conflicts. I would also include a productive task that is based on a scenario where they would most likely experience conflict.

How do you incorporate real-world business scenarios or industry-specific vocabulary into your lessons?

I try to make my lessons current and relevant by relating the lesson topic to a recent development in the business world. For example, during a lesson on the topic of business competition, I kicked off the class by talking about the introduction of Threads as a social media platform that will compete with Twitter.

It was a very interesting and comprehensive discussion that acted as a springboard for a successful lesson. Constantly exploring real-world business scenarios in class would also help students to inculcate the habit of being well-read, and this would help with their career progression. Also, having previously worked as a middle manager, I would share my personal experiences where relevant.

Do you use any particular resources or tools to enhance your students’ learning experiences? If so, can you provide some examples?

The core resource which I’m currently using is the Pearson English Platform, a comprehensive learning management system that has all your teaching and assessment needs in one place. I complement this platform with Google Docs, a web-based word processor. This tool is useful for collaborative activities as it can create live documents which students can use to work together on tasks such as writing a report, developing a short presentation, or creating a script for a role play. For engaging lesson fillers, I use worksheets developed around YouTube videos taken from the website Fluentize.