From Taiwan to TU

By Rebecca Kirkman on April 12, 2019

College of Education hosts students from National Taichung University in cultural exchange program

COE classroom
Towson University and National Taichung University of Education students practice teaching during an elementary education class.

Three Towson University College of Education students and three visiting students from the National Taichung University of Education (NTCU) in Taiwan sit at a table in Hawkins Hall, practicing a lesson they will implement with students at Padonia Elementary School the following afternoon.

“In this class, we’ve been implementing practice-based education for four months,” says Vicki McQuitty, assistant professor in elementary education. She’s teaching Principles and Practice of Instruction in Reading and Language Arts with assistant professor Pamela Hickey. “It’s very new. Instead of just talking about teaching, we practice what [TU interns] are going to teach in class before they go to the schools.”

It’s a unique opportunity for the visiting NTCU students to experience the newest teacher preparation strategies being implemented in the U.S.

“Practice-based education is new to me,” says Yueh-Nu Hung, chair of the Department of English at NTCU and leader of the group of 14 visiting students. Hung spent the 2017 – 2018 school year with Towson University as a Fulbright Scholar.

It’s also an opportunity for TU students to learn about another culture. “I think this exchange of ideas is the key,” says Xiaoming Liu, associate professor in elementary education. “Our students don’t always get a chance to hear about how to become a teacher in another country, and what the schools are like in other countries.”

While Hung was at TU as a Fulbright Scholar, she befriended Liu, who has similar research interests. Liu shared her experience taking TU students on a cultural exchange trip to China, inspiring Hung to plan a return trip to Towson University with her students from NTCU.

The trip was made possible by grants from the Taiwanese government and coordination assistance from the Towson University Department of Elementary Education and Office of International Initiatives.

From April 1 – 11, the visiting students immersed themselves in daily life at the College of Education. They attended class side-by-side with TU students, creating lesson plans and accompanying TU student teachers on their internships at local elementary schools. They heard lectures on American K-12 education and teaching English language learners by TU elementary education faculty.

TU faculty also had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Hung on elementary school teacher preparation in Taiwan.

On the last day, the visiting students gathered in the Psychology building for a goodbye ceremony attended by COE Dean Laurie Mullen.

Mullen congratulated the students and asked them about their favorite part of the experience.

“For me, the best part of this program is that we are sitting together with TU students and then we share and exchange our experiences,” says NTCU student Yu-Ting Huang.

“I really liked to interact with the students at the elementary school—the students were crazy energetic and participate a lot,” adds Meng-Tzu Chiang. “We are all English majors. We wanted to go to the U.S. and learn how to interact with people here, and we wanted to go to Towson and learn about the education scene in America.”

Hung says she hopes to return to TU with another group of Taiwanese students in the future.

Mullen encouraged the students to continue learning and traveling. “Maybe one day you’ll bring your own students back to Towson University.”