Harry Hua, MA TESOL ’22: A Teacher in Students’ Shoes

Harry Hua, MA TESOL ’22, has dreamed of being a teacher since college. After graduating, he achieved his dream - becoming an English teacher at a top high school in Shanghai. But three years into his dream job, Hua felt “something was still missing”. That’s when he decided to join NYU Shanghai - NYU Steinhardt’s Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program to further explore his interests and improve his teaching. “In this ever-changing world, the knowledge and skills acquired in college will soon be not enough to count on. Keeping learning and advancing is the only way,” Hua says.

“I completed my undergraduate education in China. But as an English teacher, I always want to learn more about how native speakers teach this language since many of the teaching approaches we learned in undergraduate courses originated from the west,” Hua says. “Also, after standing behind the podium for three years, I feel an urge to update my teaching skills and keep up with the most advanced teaching concepts and methods.” After learning about Hua’s plan for further learning, a senior teacher from his school recommended he look into the NYU Shanghai - NYU Steinhardt’s TESOL program. 

Hua says that he was immediately attracted by the program’s curriculum, faculty team setting, and teaching resources. “I was deeply impressed by NYU Shanghai’s open, diverse, and inclusive environment. Meanwhile, the flexibility of TESOL allows me to satisfy my learning needs while keeping my job. The program fits perfectly with my expectations,” Hua says.

In the past two years, Hua has spent weekdays as a teacher at his school and weekends as a student at NYU Shanghai. The best part of “playing double roles” at the same time was that Hua could employ the advanced concepts and novel teaching methods acquired from TESOL’s class immediately to his own students. “For example, last semester, I introduced the method of ‘process writing’ in my class for writing skills training. And it was quite successful among my students,” Hua says.

harry hua in class

Hua Presenting in the Linguistic Course

Hua says he first learned about ‘process writing’ in the course, Research & Practice in Academic Writing taught by TESOL Program Director and Clinical Associate Professor Kentei Takaya. Under this approach, instead of asking students to finish a whole piece of writing at once, teachers generate and revise the writing together with students. “It helps to make the writing process more manageable. We would only focus on one aspect of problems in each round of revision. For example, we may only fix the grammar errors in the first round, and in the next round we will make the logic right,” Hua says. “The immersive learning experience with TESOL allows me to know the needs of my students better as I have literally ‘been there’ so that I can design my teaching accordingly.”

In addition to the concepts and teaching methods, Hua was also thankful for the resources introduced in TESOL classes. “There are many resources available nowadays, sometimes it’s time-consuming to choose and compare. Thankfully, our professors would recommend the handiest and most useful ones to us based on their experience and practice, so that we do not have to waste our time on searching and screening different platforms by ourselves,” Hua says.

“We’re quite lucky to have a small class size so that professors can have more interactions and tutoring with every student,” Hua says. In addition to professors, Hua also enjoyed communicating with his peers. “Our classmates have diverse backgrounds. We have teachers from local, bilingual and international schools and educational institutions so that we can exchange ideas and experiences on how teaching has been practiced in different settings and learn from each other. Some of our classmates are the founders of education-related companies, or even not from the education sector, and it’s inspiring to hear insights from non-teaching perspectives as well.” 

harry hua with classmates and teacher

Hua (4th from Left) with Classmates and Professor Kentei Takaya

After graduating from TESOL, Hua will continue his teaching career at his current school. “I always love teaching. The journey with TESOL has better equipped me to pursue this career,” Hua says.