Teaching is not a contest. A teacher does not teach to win a competition or to accumulate awards. He follows the calling of helping learners learn, and develop and realise their full potential. In the process of interacting with learners, he himself will undergo the same process of self-development and self-actualisation. In educating others, he educates himself. This is my hope: not only to support students in their education but to educate myself as well. The day I stop learning will be the day I have nothing more to offer my students.
My working career began in 1988 at the Ministry of Education Language Centre in Singapore, a centralised language school, where I taught German to some very talented secondary school pupils for four years. In 1992, I made a decisive move to the National University of Singapore to realise my ambition of teaching and researching at a university. Today, I am an Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Language Studies at the same university. I am active in research into the theory and practice of foreign language education, specialising in German as a foreign language, metacognition and learner autonomy, and new technologies in language learning. Till date, I have published numerous books, book chapters and journal articles on these areas. Perhaps the many invitations I have received to lecture and present papers, seminars and workshops at international conferences and universities in Europe, Asia and Australia also serve as testimony to my achievements in research. I am currently also the Editor of e-FLT, or the Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, published by our Centre and available at http://e-flt.nus.edu.sg. I also teach German in our Centre, something I enjoy tremendously, as I like to very much work with students in class. Perhaps it was this love of teaching that motivated me to constantly innovate and to explore new modes of teaching, especially in the application of computer, Internet and mobile technologies. In 2000, I led a team of German language colleagues to create the Electronic Self-Access Centre for German as a Foreign Language (or e-daf, available at http://courseware.nus.edu.sg/e-daf/), which houses a wide range of multimedia applications, interactive exercises, electronic worksheets, hypertext notes, and communication platforms such as chats and discussion forums. I also started exploring the use of mobile technologies in 2007 and initiated the creation and use of customised podcasts to supplement the learning of our German language students.
Teaching Awards / Accolades
While I have stated that I do not teach for the sake of winning awards, I nevertheless feel honoured to have received several university and faculty teaching excellence awards at the NUS, including the prestigious Outstanding Educator Award in 2005. The greatest encouragement, or ‘reward’, comes in the affirmation I receive from students who have been through my courses and have given me their honest opinions about my classes.