I am Huaping Li, from Shanghai, China. Before I started my PhD journey, I worked as an English language teacher at a university in China for around three and a half years. During that time, I was so puzzled by these questions: why do students learn English? How can I prepare them for a truly global society while I'm teaching English? When reflecting on these questions, I found myself increasingly dissatisfied with my way of teaching, focusing too much on the grammar and linguistics of English, which was disconnected from social dynamics in China and from the world in the 21st century. With social dynamics being increasingly shaped by global interconnectedness and cultural diversity, it is important to educate all children and young people to live comfortably and work successfully in any part of the world, or, with people from any part of the world. However, I felt that I was not sufficiently prepared to develop my students’ global mindedness or global competence, while I was teaching them English.
The recognition of my own unpreparedness for teaching with social dynamics motivated my interest in doing a PhD on the internationalisation of teacher education in Scotland, where I had direct interaction with cultures, people and issues very different from those in my home country. In particular, my experience with the rich culture and the strong but beautiful Scottish accent took me from my comfort zone to a wonderland of adventures which allowed me to transform my narrow minded views and enabled me to become a more open-minded person, researcher and lecturer. What made Scotland a really attractive place to study is how nice the people here with such warm hearts and beautiful souls. I feel that I have been so lucky to make so many Scottish friends and some other international friends, which I would never have met otherwise.
I chose the University of Strathclyde because it is one of the largest providers of teacher education in Europe and it is a university known for its commitment to making itself as a place of useful learning. My four year PhD experience at the university has shown that the university and staff members, both academic and administrative, are always keeping their commitment by taking a student-centred approach, providing a wide range of scholarships, useful personal and professional development opportunities, and other wonderful support to students. For example, I learned a lot from co-teaching with my supervisor, and from delivering presentations at national and international conferences which were highly encouraged and supported by the university. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to engage in different learning opportunities which allowed me to grow as a researcher all round. These experiences have contributed to my success in finding a job as a lecturer at the University of Portsmouth where I am practicing the useful knowledge and skills I have learned at Strathclyde, to both teach and supervise students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
As a lecturer, I feel that I am now better prepared to help young people, particularly future teachers, to move out of their own little bubble, to appreciate differences or diversity in the world as well as in their own countries, communities and classrooms and promote international understanding among their students.
If you also want to do a PhD and learn useful knowledge and skills to become an academic, the University of Strathclyde is a perfect choice.