My university conducted an interview with me about this unprecedented win, and following, is an article both in Chinese and (roughly translated) English about my pedagogical approach to teaching:
Special Report on “Young Teachers’ Teaching Contest”
Grand Prize Winner Matthew:
“The world is a big classroom and we should never stop teaching and learning”
“第二届青年教师教学竞赛”两位特等奖获得者中有一位是“老外”，他就是我校语言中心负责英语教学的Matthew。来自美国的Matthew从事英语语言教育已有十余年，曾在新西兰的米德尔顿田庄大学（Middletown Grange College）、埃塞俄比亚的读经台大学（Ambo University） 和尔达瓦大学（Dire Dawa University）等从事英语语言教学，在南方科技大学任教是他首次在中国开启教学之路。
One of the two Grand Prize winners of the Second Young Teachers’ Teaching Contest is Matthew Jellick, a foreign English teacher in the Language Center at SUSTech. Matthew is from the United States has been teaching English abroad for nearly ten years including working at Middletown Grange College in New Zealand, as well as Ambo University and Dire Dawa University in Ethiopia. SUSTech is his first stop teaching here in China.
Matthew has been with SUSTech for 14 months. Part of his responsibilities include teaching academic writing skills to Sophomore students as well as conducting Staff English Training courses. Matthew said he is very happy with his teaching work at SUSTech. SUSTech is a young and energetic university that is advancing on the path of vigorous development. He is honored to work at the university and witness its growth and development. He said that teaching in such a newly-developed university gives him an opportunity to make more meaningful contributions. When looking back ten or twenty years later, he will be proud of the teaching work he participated in and the achievements he made.
Teaching and learning in the diversified classroom
As an ancient Chinese saying goes, if three men are walking together, one of them is bound to be good enough to be my teacher. Matthew believes that the classroom should be a diversified teaching platform that integrates various cultures. For him, the most important teaching method is to provide equal time for “teacher talk” and “student talk“. That is to say, although he is a teacher standing at the front of the class, every student should have his/her viewpoints and ideas listened to as an equal participant. When the students are learning from him within the class, he can also learn other cultural knowledge from them and their diverse cultural backgrounds. Matthew believes that one does not necessarily know more than the other. Only within a specific knowledge framework can one become a teacher of others, and beyond these specific circumstance, he needs to learn from others. In his opinion, suppose there are 30 students in a class and everyone can express his/her thoughts: then there will be 30 different cultural feedbacks in the classroom, which Matthew believes is very valuable in the teaching process. This is the teaching methodology most valued by him. He thinks that in teaching, especially language teaching, letting students express themselves can not only improve their speaking ability, but also improve their self–cognition and activate their thinking. Matthew believes that the sharing of ideas within the classroom is an essential part of a successful class.
A good textbook has an important guiding role for knowledge acquisition. In Matthew’s viewpoint, good teaching methods may arouse students’ emotion and strengthen the interaction between students and teachers in the classroom, but a good textbook can further arouse students’ interest in learning and expanding their knowledge and cultural level. In the course of knowledge acquisition, the textbook can materialize the abstract knowledge so that the students can understand the concepts of that same knowledge more clearly. Teaching is a process of continuous adaptation. As a global teacher, Matthew needs to adapt himself to different geographical and cultural environments and students from different countries and different cultural backgrounds, and establish mutual trust based on mutual understanding and communication, and then promote each other through his the teaching process. A good textbook, as an important support mechanism in the teaching process, also needs diversified content, so that students can broaden their horizons and understand more world cultures while grasping knowledge.
Expand the teaching platform and teach through lively activities
Matthew said he is very honored to win the Grand Prize in the Young Teachers’ Teaching Contest and regards it as a recognition and encouragement of his teaching. SUSTech provides good mechanisms and platforms for young teachers to develop their teaching ability so that they may accumulate experience and make progress in the path of their careers. The contest is a good practice to train their teaching skills and encourage them to improve on the path of teaching. Matthew has his own way of teaching. He doesn’t advocate “cramming teaching”, but tends to interact and communicate with students, so that the classroom is full of vigor and vitality. Matthew believes that a good teaching process should not be limited only to the classroom and therefore, he extends teaching outside the classroom. He provides the university’s staff with English training course and in his spare time, works with the English Speaking and English Book Club, providing a diversified platform of English learning for both students and teachers. He often encourages students to challenge themselves in the classroom. When he taught in Ethiopia, it was a great challenge for his outstanding undergraduate students in Africa to pursue a master’s degrees or doctorates in Britain, France or the United States, but if they succeed in doing so, they will broaden their horizon and benefit from it by obtaining knowledge and experiencing different cultural environments.
Broaden the horizon while staying true to the original intention of education
Matthew enjoys every class with students. He not only shares the customs and cultures around the world with them, but also talks about what he sees, thinks, and feels with them. Shenzhen is a rapidly developing city that has gathered high-tech companies such as Huawei, Tencent and BGI. Matthew feels very happy to live in such a city and work at SUSTech, filled with vitality. He said that today’s world is a community of science and technology with different cultures integrated together. As an English teacher, he has the opportunity to work with colleagues of different professional experiences and backgrounds. He can not only get a lot of cultural knowledge despite the great working pressure, but also teach language knowledge through the teaching process and act as a cultural disseminator so that the people around him may experience the humanity from around the world.
Matthew said that if he has the opportunity to go to other countries for English teaching in the future, he will bring the cultural knowledge, teaching experience, customs and humanity he has learnt in China, just as he has brought the cultures of other countries into his classroom here. While accumulating teaching experience, he will continue to be a discriminator of education and culture. In his view, he will lose motivation, passion and his own uniqueness if he stays in a country or university for ten years or more, so he will keep forward with the teaching experience accumulated and the humanities harvested, to pass the cultural customs he has learnt to the next stop. As he sums up his teaching attitude with a word, “the world is a big classroom and we should never stop teaching and learning.”