Teacher Diaries: Israel Hau – Teaching Philosophy

Learning English has always been a bittersweet journey for me. I did not really enjoy reading grammar books or writing countless letters to the editor(s) in secondary school, and so at the time I concluded that I did not like English. Fate, however, brought me to the School of English in HKU, and there English became something I never thought it to be — it became art, and it changed everything.

We are all drawn to beautiful things: from the magnificence of the Grand Canyon to the grandeur of the Palace of Versailles; from the mysterious Mona Lisa to the charming Miss World. We all love to behold beauty. One is actually tempted to believe that we are designed for beauty. When I started to realise the beauty of the English language—thanks to my university teachers—I was fascinated and could not but discover more.

For me this is the key of learning English: when your eyes are open and enabled to appreciate the beauty of English, it becomes only natural for you to read more, write more and speak more. Believing that once the students’ interest is ignited their desire to learn will come next, my job as a teacher is simply to be an enthusiastic tour guide, as it were, and show my students where the gorgeous sights are. Or, in other words, teachers are the lens through which students learn to see and appreciate a hidden treasure of knowledge.

Someone once said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” When English becomes the endless and immense ocean that causes fascination, everything changes.

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