Welcome to the next installment in our Summer Postcards series! We’re asking our students what they’re up to and how they’re making the most of this summer. Today we’re checking in with Nicolas Duque, who has spent the summer teaching English in Hong Kong.
-Jessen O’Brien and Susie Allen
If my summer with SummerBridge Hong Kong has taught me anything, it is that teaching is serious, difficult, and undeniably rewarding work. Whether it’s getting up at 6:00 am to beat the kids to school on the other side of the city or staying up until midnight preparing lesson plans and class materials, working in an English immersion camp is a 24-hour job—one that I don’t regret for a second.
Before coming to teach at SummerBridge, I had just barely looked into teaching. I had tutored lower school students in high school and taught two classes with Cascade, a weekly University of Chicago teaching program for local middle school students. This program, while sharing Cascade’s desire to promote a love for learning and a strong emphasis on teaching socio-economically disadvantaged students, has proven to be radically different than any other teaching experience I have had. The students, the teachers, and the program’s student-centered teaching ethos have all contributed to make this experience my most remarkable summer yet.SummerBridge truly brings out the best in its students. Despite being taught as a core subject in Hong Kong, English remains an elusive skill for most students. They study in a system where harsh test scores drive the market, limiting speaking and listening exercises for more easily testable writing and reading skills. Unfortunately, the result is a set of students which has a great understanding of grammar, but which is shy to speak and often seems to have a limited vocabulary. While in some programs this perception may be their entire English experience, in others like SummerBridge many students are really able to explore English as a language. Here, they build confidence and actual communication skills, making them love rather than dread English.