HKBU Enews Eyes on HKBU
Jun 2012 | Issue 21

Dr. Ho Shing-bon: Be enthusiastic to inspire enthusiasm

Recipient of President's Award for Outstanding Performance in Teaching in 2006

Stepping into his 17th year of teaching at Hong Kong Baptist University, Dr. Ho Shing-bon, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Chinese Section of the Language Centre, has taught students from almost every faculty and department. Dr. Ho always cherishes every teaching opportunity he has. He works hard to create enthusiasm for learning by being enthusiastic himself. He is dedicated to inspiring students’ interest in Chinese, hopes they enjoy his class and are able to truly appreciate what they have learnt. “I believe that my students can sense the effort and preparation that goes into my classes,” he says.

Adapting teaching methods
University Chinese, the subject taught by Dr. Ho, is a compulsory course at HKBU and attracts students with different majors. With students of different academic levels who have varied interests in one class, Dr. Ho adapts his methods to help them grasp the rules of the language by relating them to things they are familiar with and interested in. “For example, when I’m teaching students from the Academy of Visual Arts about confusable words, I draw the original graphics of these characters out and show them that Chinese characters are indeed a kind of art. I hope to arouse their interest in this way,” he says.

Providing communication channels
Dr. Ho makes use of extra-curricular time and online platforms to help his students. For example, he encourages students to communicate with him through MSN and email after class. “Usually one week before they need to submit their assignments or before examinations, I will be online at a specific time, let’s say 11 pm, for them to ask questions.” However, he smiles and adds, “Sometimes my students complain that I went offline too early and they were unable to ask all their questions.” In addition, Dr. Ho uploads in-depth analysis on some articles he shared with students during his lectures on the Moodle so that students who are interested can learn further.

A caring teacher
When he notices students who seem to be falling back in their studies or who are always late for class or skip lessons, Dr. Ho sends them an email to try and understand if they have any problems. “I care about my students and hope to find ways to help them, but I don’t want to impose on their lives. After all, they are already adults and capable of thinking independently.” He believes his students appreciate his attention and he tries to encourage them through his affection. "When sharing some articles with them, I ride on the messages conveyed by the article to exhort them to treasure the opportunities to learn Chinese. Because a few years later, when they have graduated and become part of the workforce, their University teacher will not be around but Chinese will be with them for a lifetime,” he says. “It’s likely that I would be the last Chinese teacher in their lives and so I feel I must be a source of encouragement and enlightenment.”

From science student to Chinese lecturer
Although Dr. Ho majored in Chinese at university, he never intended to pick the subject and never imagined that he would become a Chinese teacher. “I was a science student. Most boys in my time studied science; Chinese was rarely a choice. Also, I loved chemistry and wanted to become a pharmacist.” But since his public examination results were the best in Chinese, he finally enrolled in the Chinese Department.

"I planned to transfer to another department after being admitted to the university but eventually I found that I was increasingly interested in Chinese.” He also realised that his training in science helped him in his Chinese studies. "For example, science puts much emphasis on logic and coherence so I was relatively more rational when I came across with Chinese questions. And due to my science background, I’m particularly interested in stylistics and language studies.” He recalls the words of his teacher: “My teacher said that if you are devoted to a subject, the subject will ‘protect’ you. What he meant is that all your effort will be rewarded. In my case, I was able to find an enjoyable job teaching Chinese.”

Designing supplementary courses
Besides teaching University Chinese and a number of Chinese courses, Dr. Ho has applied for a Teaching Development Grant and started to design and teach Pre-employment Chinese Examination Preparation Courses, which aim at helping graduating students enhance their proficiency in Chinese. “It’s a series of supplementary courses designed to help to promote HKBU graduates’ competitiveness in their future workplaces. As enrolment is voluntary, students need to take the initiative to participate.” Dr. Ho emphasises. “The courses are necessary because many students almost forget Chinese after three years of exciting university life.”

He attaches great importance to the courses and prepares well for every lecture, usually spending two days preparing teaching materials for a two-hour class. “Since I want students to be enthusiastic, I should be even more enthusiastic. I enjoy teaching and hope my students enjoy my class too.”