Guests attend the Global English Education China Assembly in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Saturday. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)
Global English education events have not only helped English teachers with their professional development in the classroom, but have also enriched their lives.
Zhang Chunyu, an English teacher from a once impoverished county in Anhui province, said she felt enlightened after she attended the Global English Education China Assembly in 2018 for the first time.
"Before attending the assembly, I felt teaching was like walking in the dark. My teaching was literally reading the textbook without any theoretical foundation," Zhang said, adding that she knew few effective teaching methods at the time.
After graduating as an engineering major from college in 1998, Zhang became an English teacher at a middle school. She had received no English language or teacher training.
Zhang has since taken every opportunity to better herself as an educator, including ordering many materials to sharpen her English and teaching skills.
In 2018, she learned about the education assembly from a newspaper and signed up for it. After attending, she said she felt like the door to quality teaching had been opened for her.
"I started to use the theories I learned from the assembly in my teaching," she said.
The Global English Education China Assembly has been held every year since debuting in 2018. This year's gathering, held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, was themed "Mutual Connectivity and Win-win with Coexistence: Promoting and Coordinating Development of Foreign Language Education Worldwide".
The three-day event, which kicked off on Friday, aimed to promote academic knowledge, professional development and cross-cultural understanding among English language educators in China while enhancing dialogue and communication among the nation's English teachers and their peers worldwide.
Zhang, who has attended the annual event four times, said she has learned a lot from it and has incorporated that knowledge into her teaching. She highly recommends that her peers participate.
"Some of my students have a poor English foundation, since many of them never studied it in primary school," she said, adding that many come from migrant families.
After listening to an expert speak at the assembly, Zhang realized that reading materials should match students' learning levels.
"The textbooks are too difficult for some of my students," she said, adding that some will lose interest in English if they have been pushed to learn with unsuitable materials.
Hong Haiyan, an English teacher from Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, could not agree more with Zhang. She has also attended the event four times.
"It has helped me broaden my perspective and stay in tune with the world. I can study locally, but think globally," she said.
She noted that her learning from the conference extended beyond the three-day event to daily study.
"The assembly offers diverse learning materials, such as seminars, lectures and reading materials on social media. I haven't stopped learning from it," Hong said. "The meetings have passed on the concept of lifelong learning to us and have influenced many participants like me."
Her positive learning attitude has had an impact on her family, too.
"I don't have to push my children to learn. They follow what I do," said Hong, who has a daughter and a son.
"The assembly is more than a conference. It is like a spiritual lighthouse for our English educators, reminding us to keep learning even when we are busy with daily work. The meeting is a bridge to connect us with the world. My students can see the world through us," Hong added.
For an English teacher surnamed Cui from Nanjing, Jiangsu province, the experience of attending the assembly for the first time in 2019 was a wake-up call.
Cui had been a high school English teacher for 12 years at that time and was experiencing career fatigue.
"I buried myself into family matters and neglected my development, especially after giving birth to my daughter," she said.
She attended the assembly in August 2019 and met many experts in the field.
"They were like top icons in English education walking out of the books," she said."It was the first time I thought experts were really in reach for me. I was sitting next to masters and doctors, and they were speaking with confidence. I could not help wonder, why couldn't I?"
After returning from the meeting, she decided to apply for a master's degree program. "The assembly made me think about my career, my life and my family," she said.
Cui received an offer to study for her master's in 2020 and is preparing for her thesis now. She also applied to work at a different school, one of the best in the region.