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Acceptance Speech by Dr Tushar Chaudhuri at the Presentation Ceremony of the 2019 UGC Teaching Award (10.10.2019)

Dr Tushar Chaudhuri


Good evening, Honourable Chairman Tong, Prof. Thomas, Panel Members, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen! It is a great honour to be here on this stage tonight, on behalf of my students, my colleagues and not the least on behalf of my own teachers and professors who inspired me to follow on their footsteps and take up teaching as a calling. And it has been a truly amazing journey.

A university-level education should be a life-changing experience for those who engage its deep learning options, particularly questioning, analysis, and increasingly, in the 21st century, through local and global collaboration. As the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon put it: "Education gives us a profound understanding that we are tied together as citizens of the global community and that our challenges are interconnected". As an educator, my teaching strategy is constructed around a simple 3C approach: Connect, Collaborate and Construct. This approach is based on the belief that we educate global citizens who are interconnected and who will solve global problems through the collaborative construction of knowledge. This belief also closely aligns with the HKBU's institutional strategic plan to promote a global culture and to provide the best learning experience for our students.

The pre-requisites to global interconnectedness are language proficiency and intercultural competence. I teach German as a Foreign Language and European Area Studies. With the influx of technology into the language classroom, global connections are increasingly becoming possible and becoming part of foreign language teaching. This is chiefly through 'Telecollaboration', which underpins my 3C model as its learning design.

Telecollaboration helps my students to acquire key competences of teamwork, negotiation, effective communication and effective project management. All of these are essential to excel in a mobility year and be part of an effective global team. In its most successful form, Telecollaboration goes from being a learner-centred approach to a learner-led approach as learners advance from one stage to another in the collaborative process.

In successive projects such as the ILLSA: Integrated Language Learning and Social Awareness Project and GRUEN: Green Urban Environments, my approach to Telecollaboration has expanded from being an in-class language-learning activity to a community activity involving high schools, sister institutions and European partners alike. In these projects, students are connected to their peers from all over the world and use their second or third languages to discuss issues of urban living and global citizenship.

My proposal to set up a Community of Practice on technology enhanced language education in the Greater Bay Area, extends the idea of Connect, Collaborate and Construct to peers & colleagues. It seeks to create a telecollaborative platform to exchange, compare and contrast information on new and innovative ways to bring technology into the language classroom. I am thankful to the Panel and the UGC for supporting an initiative which will provide a creative space as well as seed funding to put ideas based on the latest research on Technology Enhanced Language Education into practice.

But now I had better get on with my Thank You's because as with everything with the UGC, I am on a strict time limit here. I would firstly like to thank the HKBU which has been my intellectual home and academic family since I first joined the European Studies Programme fresh after finishing my PhD in 2005. I am indeed honoured that our President, our Vice-President for T & L, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and my Head of Department are present here tonight. Thank you! I would also like to thank all my project partners and project teams in Hong Kong and Europe, my students who are very patient whenever I start explaining a new project idea to them. My former colleague and mentor Prof. Hans-Werner Hess, who never let me forget that a University stands first & foremost for its students. Dr Eva Wong, who never gives up - who is also here tonight and with whom I share the honour. As well as her team at the Centre for Holistic Teaching and Learning: Theresa, Roger, Andy without whose support every step of the way, I would definitely not be standing here tonight. Thank you!