UA Professor Travels the Globe Teaching English Language Educators

Working with Vietnamese university teachers during a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City
Dr. Dilin Liu working with Vietnamese university teachers during a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City.

From the April 2017 Desktop News Dr. Dilin Liu, professor and coordinator of the applied linguistics and teaching English to speakers of other languages, or TESOL, program in the Department of English, recently returned from a two-week trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Liu was invited to deliver the opening plenary speech at CamTESOL, an annual TESOL conference in Southeast Asia with over 1,500 participants, as well as the closing plenary speech for the research symposium portion of the conference, which resulted in a weeklong stay in Cambodia.

While there, he also conducted workshops for the American English Teaching Fellows working in countries in the region, including Burma, China, Laos, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The English Teaching Fellows are sent abroad to help teach English by the U.S. Department of State’s English Language Programs.

Following CamTESOL, Liu spent a week in Vietnam where he led workshops for university English faculty members at the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Training Center in Ho Chi Minh City.

Liu said the main goal of his speeches and workshops was to provide effective teaching methods for English educators, introduce them to new technology which can be used in lessons, and explain how important understanding culture is to learning a new language.

To help teach English more effectively and in a more engaging manner, he showed the participants of his speeches and workshops how to use contemporary English corpora—large machine-searchable electronic collections of spoken and written texts.

Liu also talked about the importance and ways to incorporate culture in language teaching.

“Language cannot be separated from culture because language is closely intertwined with culture,” Liu said. “For example, in English, we use a lot of sports jargon like ‘who dropped the ball?’ or ‘We hit a home run,’ because sports are such an important part of American culture. If you don’t understand the culture, those expressions wouldn’t make any sense.”

Liu’s trip was funded by the U.S. Department of State’s English Language Specialist Program, which is part of its English Language Programs.

Liu has been frequently invited to speak both in the United States and overseas. In addition to Cambodia and Vietnam, he has given speeches in China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.