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About Chia Suan Chong

Hi, I’m Chia Suan, but most people call me Chia.

I am a communication skills and intercultural skills trainer, a Business English specialist and an EFL teacher trainer based in Munich. I was teaching General English, Business English and exam classes in London from 2003 – 2012, working mainly at International House London. But since my move to Munich, I now work freelance, dealing with in-company corporate training, and intensive teacher training and intercultural training workshops and seminars.

Aside from my original Bachelor degree in Communication Studies (Broadcast and Electronic Media) and my CELTA and DELTA qualifications, I also have a LCCI Cert TEB in teaching Business English, and a MA in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching from King’s College London where my dissertation focused on politeness in intercultural communication and ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) scenarios.

I am interested in teaching approaches and methodologies, especially in Dogme and coursebook-less classrooms, ELF and Sociolinguistics, and am fascinated with the interplay between culture, communication, language and thought. As a result, I find myself writing a lot about these topics in blogs and journals (see below). In addition to being the regular blogger of ELTKnowledge.com (the official website of ELT journals ETp and MET), I also am involved in materials development of language teaching resources and consultancy for training organisations.

Aside from communications training and and teacher training e.g. running CELTA and CERT IBET courses, I spend a lot of my time blogging, tweeting (@chiasuan), and Skyping.  I have spoken at several conferences (see below) about Dogme and unplugged teaching, using technology with Dogme, ELF, politeness and pragmatics,  intercultural awareness, Second Language Acquisition (SLA), and drama in classrooms.

Almost nothing excites me more than having a passionate discussion about language and communication. In my free time, I am an avid DVD collector and like wasting my time staring at my 500-600 DVD collection arranged in alphabetical order.

Conferences “A Coursebook-less Classroom”, English UK Business Trainers’ Conference 2009“International English – An Alternative Model to ELF”, IATEFL BESIG Poznan 2009; English UK Business Trainers’ Conference 2010.

“Improvised Principled Eclecticism – a Dogme research project”, IATEFL Harrogate 2010.

“Systemic Functional Grammar – Why have most Business English teachers never heard of it?”, IATEFL BESIG Bielefeld 2010.

“Systemic Functional Grammar – Can SFG resolve those myths pedagogic grammar perpetuates?”, IATEFL Brighton 2011.

“Intelligibility or Impressions? – Requests in ELF scenarios”, IATEFL BESIG Dubrovnik 2011.

“My Conversion into ELF”, IH DOS Conference Plenary Speech 2012.

“My Journey with ELF”, IATEFL Glasgow 2012 BESIG Pre-Conference Event Opening Presentation.

“Constructing Politeness in ELF Service Encounters – Lessons for the language classroom”, ELF 5, Istanbul, May 2012.

“Myths and Controversies in Business English Teaching”, BESIG Paris Summer Symposium, June 2012.

Creating the Right Impression – the politeness and pragmatics of ELF“, ETAS ZUG SIG Day, Switzerland, Sept 2012.

Paying Lip Service to Applied Linguistics“, Closing Plenary for the English UK Teachers’ Conference, Nov 2012.

(Mis)-Applied Linguistics“, Closing Plenary for TESOL France conference, Nov 2012.

 

Online presentations “The Politeness and Pragmatics of ELF”, IATEFL BESIG Online Workshop, Feb 2012.“Plugging in the Unplugged Classroom”, 5thVirtual Round Table, April 2012.

 

Publications ‘Politeness and Pragmatics in NNS Interactions’, IATEFL Global Issues Special Interest Group Newsletter, 28, 47-49

‘Business English Drama’, with Phil Wade. IATEFL Business Issues SIG Newsletter, Issue 81.

‘Politeness and Pragmatics in NNS Interactions’, IH Journal, Issue 32.

Book review: ‘Teaching the Pronunciation of ELF’, IH Journal, Issue 32.

‘Politeness, Pragmatics and ELF’, ETAS Journal, Vol. 29 No. 3 Summer, 2012.

Why I Changed My Mind About ELF – A Literature Review for the Practitioner, Language Issues, Vol. 23. No. 1, 2012.

What does a CELTA tutor do?, English Teaching Professional, Issue 82, Oct 2012.

Ten things that teachers should never forget, Teaching Times, Fall Issue, Nov 2012.

Head-to-Head on ‘Are English Exams useful?’, Business Spotlight, Jan-Feb, 1/2013.

‘My trainees’ 10 (+1) maxims of teaching’, IH Journal, Issue 33.

Regular blogger for ELT Knowledge (official website for ELT Journals ETp and MET) http://www.eltknowledge.com

 

35 responses »

  1. Hey love the new blog!

    Reply
  2. Thanks for updating this page!
    While I really enjoyed what you wrote in any case I WAS curious to know the context…
    Nice to “meet” you!

    Reply
  3. Welcome to blogospere! I loved your presentation in IATEFL 2010, it’s a pity we never met! Maybe at some other conference. I got here from a twitter comment about one of your posts and have spent the better part of an hour exploring everything! Looking forward to your next posts.

    Reply
  4. Beth Vasconcelos

    Hi Chia!
    Great blog. Great posts!
    Beth

    Reply
  5. Hi Chia Suan… So happy to see yr own blog from twitter! I’m a big fans of u since Triple 9. U was also acting in Ch 8 drama series but disappear after tat. Do update more esp pic of u, k?

    Reply
  6. Dennis Newson of IATEFL told me about your blog. Fascinating and thought-provoking stuff. Well written and useful for teachers. Well done!
    Do come along to my online webinar tomorrow on musc and language if you can! http://yltsigevo2012.wordpress.com/

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comments! I’m truly honoured. That’s really nice of Dennis too. Do give him my regards when you next speak to him.
      Your online webinar sounds absolutely fascinating but unfortunately, I’ll be teaching in class at that time tomorrow. Maybe I can watch the recording?
      BTW, I’m also conducting a webinar this Sunday 5th Feb (3pm GMT) for BESIG on the Politeness and Pragmatics of ELF. If you have time, maybe see you there? It’s on the besig.org website…

      Reply
  7. Hi, Chia

    I`m extremely happy I`ve found your blog! You are a real model to follow! I`ll do my CELTA course at IH London in September this year. I hardly wait to get there and I hope to have the chance to meet you!
    Wish you all the best!!
    Camelia

    Reply
    • Hi Camelia,
      Thanks for the lovely comment. I’m very honoured by your words and am glad that my posts could in any way help you with your CELTA training and development as a teacher. See you at IH London in September!
      Chia

      Reply
  8. Hi Chia! I just had a read through your ELF5 posts – really enjoyed reading about the talks that I missed, as well as refreshing my memory on the ones I attended. Great to meet you at the conference and I’ll definitely be following your blog.

    Hope to see you again sometime on the conference circuit!
    All best,
    Lydia x

    Reply
    • Hi Lydia!
      It was great to meet you at the ELF5 Conference, and I’m glad you find the blog summaries useful.

      Blogging and Tweeting at IATEFL and other practitioners’ conferences have been quite commonplace, but from the looks of things, the use of Web 2.0 and social media isn’t quite the rage with academics just yet…

      But I do think that the knowledge we can get from conferences like ELF5 is immense and hope that through blogs and twitter, we can reach more people with what is being said, and allow the research and the findings to have a real impact on the practitioners’ way of approaching language teaching and teacher training.

      AFter the whole point of Applied Linguistics is to apply it, right?

      C

      Reply
  9. Hi. I have been following your blog for a short while now. It’s great.
    When I told a friend – a phonetician with whom I share a healthy interest in Gattegno’s ideas about learning and in particular, language learning – that I was heading back into teaching and planning to take a CELTA course, I asked them if they had any recommendations. You were high on his list (they had seen you present at an IATEFL conference). I took note.
    I spoke to IH London and asked if I could hand pick my tutor, and they said (very politely) “Erm, no, sorry mate, doesn’t work like that”, or at least something along those lines.
    Anyway, I am sure all the tutors at IH London have great qualities, but having previously been involved in teaching I am also aware that standards do vary.
    Tempering these concerns with a desire to not come across as a blindly devoted CSC fan, I thought it’s worthwhile contacting you via this blog. I am planning to do the course this autumn.
    Best wishes,
    Tom

    Reply
    • Dear Tom,
      Thanks so much for your support. I really am flattered.
      I would love to be able to be your Celta tutor, but the people you spoke to from IH London were absolutely right. Trainees can’t pick their trainers because it’d make for a logistical nightmare…and moreover, I don’t always do teacher training as I often switch between departments and teach Business English and General English too. And this autumn, aside from the part-time Celta I’m running, I might not be running another Celta.

      Having said that, we have excellent teacher trainers at IH London, so you really shouldn’t worry too much.
      I’m sure you’ll enjoy the course all the same.

      But thank you so much for asking.

      Yours,
      Chia

      Reply
      • Hi Chia,

        I’m halfway through the part time CELTA at IH London – it’s working out really well with Nick & Ri as tutors. As part of my extra curricular activities I have been reading through some of the things posted here and elsewhere about DOGME. My experience of working with school text books in Japan made me keen on keeping it real in the classroom. I was particularly interested in the interchange on the IH London teachers’ development blog: Dogme vs. Text Book.

        There are obvious links between what Gattegno promoted, and what Dogmeticians are doing, so I see now why Piers recommended you as a potential trainee. Halfway into the course though I realise that the CELTA is no place for discussing such issues anyway. I am wondering how I may fit such lofty ideals into a very earthly classroom in the future. Here’s a link to an inspiring article you may find of interest, written by a friend and experienced Silent Way teacher, Roslyn:

        http://www.uneeducationpourdemain.org/en/pedagogical-articles/silent-way/151-getting-elementary-students-to-talk-roslyn-young?highlight=YToxOntpOjA7czo2OiJyb3NseW4iO30=

        If you have not come across Silent Way classes before we are organising a one-off training workshop in London on December 16th, to which you or any of your colleagues are warmly welcome. Piers is leading it. Although the target language is Japanese, the aim of the workshop is to give raw exposure to a very different teaching method. Acquiring some Japanese will merely a bye product. Here’s a link to the workshop flyer:
        https://dl.dropbox.com/u/41114934/Silent%20Way%20Workshop%20Japanese.pdf

        Best wishes,

        Tom

        Reply
        • oops, I meant ‘trainer’, not trainee. Proof reading needs polishing…

        • Hi Tom,
          Sounds like you’re in very good hands there… Nick and Ri are some of the best Celta trainers you can get! Geniuses!
          I think there is space for discussion on the Celta, but more importantly, in order to do Dogme, or any kind of teaching well, it’s always good to have a framework to base things on…and the Celta provides a good framework, especially for newly qualified teachers.
          The same goes for lesson planning. Although Dogme might not require actual lesson plans, but the process of lesson planning on the Celta helps one to really consider each stage of a lesson, and the reasons and aims behind every single thing we do in the classroom. It makes us think about the instructions we give, the time we allow for different activities, the space we give for correction, etc.
          Remember, lesson planning is about the process, and not the product, i.e. the plan itself.

          In a real life lesson, especially a Dogme lesson, we are simply improvising these plans on the spot.
          But to improvise, we need to know how to do it in advance.
          That’s where I think the Celta really helps us to take it step by step…although of course, some of the things we learn on the Celta might be revised after the Celta… But hey! We might learn to play the scales in C major when we first start learning to play the piano, but later, we graduate to playing the chromatic scales…

          : )

          Enjoy the Celta, Tom!
          Your tutors are truly my idols!

          Yours,
          Chia

  10. Hi Chia,
    I am an English teacher in Madrid. I’ve been giving lessons for the past 2 months and I am enjoying it thoroughly.
    I love the communicative approach in teaching English and I am applying it in my classes. It is very effective because students acquire more self-confidence in speaking the language compared to their performance in lessons based on textbooks and grammar.
    I wanted to ask if your website includes a place for creating and editing English and Business English courses (content& methodology) so that everyone, teachers or students alike, can add improvements and ideas.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thanks and best regards,
    Maria

    Reply
  11. Keith Rossborough

    Hi Chia
    I stumbled over your site yesterday via the eltknowledge site. I’m extremely impressed with your rise through the ELF ranks in such a short period of time! I spent 3-4 hours watching your talks on Politeness in Culture last night – very interesting. If you don’t mind too much, I may head down that road too when I do my MA dissertation next year. (By the way, I did my Celta in 2002, the Delta at IH London (my tutors were Kathy and Bettina) in 2007 and am currently doing an MA Applied Linguistics TESOL at Leicester.) Looking forward to reading/watching more of your stuff! What’s more, I’m gutted I missed you in my home country, Switzerland last month, as I’ve read you took part in the ETAS SIG Day in ZUG, my loss! (Any plans of returning to Switzerland?)

    Liebe Grüss
    Keith

    Reply
    • Hi Keith,
      Thanks for your very kind comments. Ah yes, I do know your Delta tutors. A lot of tough loving from them, I bet?
      Pragmatics and discourse is indeed an interesting area and I’m fascinated by how the interplay of different cultures can affect it both positively and negatively.
      I was indeed at the ETAS SIG Day this year and had a great time there.
      I definitely hope to be back next year if they will have me.

      Yours,
      Chia

      Reply
      • Keith Rossborough

        Hi Chia
        Interesting to see you have moved to Munich! A little closer to me in Zurich! I’ve been an admirer of your stuff and would enjoy the opportunity to see you in action! Have you got any upcoming seminars in or around Munich? By the way, yes, Kathy and Benita were as hard as nails! Keith

        Reply
        • Hi Keith,
          Thank you for your support. Really appreciate it.

          I will in fact be speaking at a MELTA (Munich English Language Teaching Association) event this Saturday the 20th April, in a joint day with Evan Frendo. Do have a look at the MELTA website for more details. Hope to see you there!

          Yours,
          Chia

  12. Dear Chia,
    I am Xu Ying, an English teacher trained in IHL by you for the two days in early November. Do you remember the one you asked to act as a student always making errors which we were discussing when to correct students’ errors. I was impressed by your great training and you gave me a lot to think about and a lot to learn.
    About Dogme, I would apprecitate if you could give me more about that.
    Thanks a lot!
    Best wishes,
    Stella( my English name)

    Reply
    • Hi Xu Ying!

      I’m really happy to receive your message on my blog. I do remember you well and I’m very happy that you found the training useful!
      There’s quite a bit of Dogme that I have blogged about on this site, so if you click on ‘Dogme’ under ‘Categories’, you should be able to find relevant blogposts of mine.

      Alternatively, if you scroll further down my home page, you will see my blogroll containing other fantastic bloggers websites. Look for the heading ‘Dogmeticians’ and you will have links to some great blogs about Dogme!

      Hope that helps you.
      Do stay in touch!

      Yours,
      Chia

      Reply
  13. Pingback: A day late on nominations— and we all rock! #eddies12 | A journée in language.

  14. Hi Chia,

    It’s great to find your blog…

    Nowadays we’re trying to establish a Teacher Development Unit at our school and trying to deal with the paperwork (you know, the aim, procedures, implementations, scales ect.).
    I came across with the CPD checklist in the following link:

    http://www.eltknowledge.com/a_cpd_checklist_for_looking_back_on_2012and_here39s_to_looking_forward_29026.aspx

    With some minor changes, we’d like to use it as a checklist for teachers’ self-observation and reflection purposes.

    Do you think citing your checklist exactly with the above link will be ok? Or do you have an alternative suggestion?

    And we’ll appreciate if you could suggest some other links which you think will be useful for us in the establishment of our TDU…

    Thanks in advance,

    Best,
    Nihat

    Reply
    • Dear Nihat,
      Thanks for leaving this comment and I’m really glad to hear that my checklist on Continual Professional Development will be of use to your teachers.
      I think citing the link would be great, but do you think you could also include the writer’s name (i.e. my name) and the name of the blogsite (i.e. http://www.eltknowledge.com)?

      As for other links, are you a Twitter user? There are lots of teachers around the world sharing links and ideas on CPD on Twitter and it has been really helpful to me.

      Yours,
      Chia

      Reply
  15. Hi Chia,

    I am Mukesh Soni from India and very impressed to see your blogs with fruitful information on ELT. I and my friend are planning to do CELTA from IH London. Could you please guide about this ?

    Though we are wrting IELTS test next month and then will apply. Let me know the job opportunities after this course as I am a Non-native English speaker.

    Best Wishes

    Mukesh Soni

    Reply
  16. Hi Chia,
    Love the blog, especially the coursebook-less classroom. I wonder if you would be interested in hearing my experience.
    I teach Spanish 6- and 7-year-olds in English in an ‘immersion’ school in Spain. I’m offering you a free copy of my eBook (Zen Kyu Maestro: An English Teacher’s Spanish Adventure). It tells the story of my first year here as I struggled to teach English while struggling to learn Spanish. My efforts to learn Spanish gave me a unique insight into the experience the children in my class were having learning (in) English. it’s a ‘year-in-the-life’ story, published by Monday Books (UK).
    There’s no catch, in fact it’s quite a sound marketing ploy. I get my book in front of someone who will probably find it interesting, and if you like it, I’ll trust you to tell some of your like-minded friends and colleagues.
    You can view the blurb here; http://goo.gl/JGTsZ so you can decide if it’s your cup-of-tea or not. If your’re interested, just let me have your e-mail address and I’ll send you the Amazon voucher with my thanks.
    Saludos.
    Jeremy Dean.
    about.me/jeremyinspain

    Reply
  17. Just to drop by and say hi. I found your website from a link from another site. I’m a CELTA-trained IELTS teacher based in Singapore. It’s good to find other ESL teaching blogs. There seems to be many of them around!

    Not sure if you have experience teaching IELTS, but I hope you do touch a bit on this topic/area some time in future as I’ll be following your blog. It’s interesting to read the perspectives of different bloggers who focus on different areas.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  18. Pingback: Creativity & The Mother Tongue: Interview with Chia Suan Chong at IATEFL Liverpool 2013 | Profesorbaker's ELT Blog

  19. Keith Rossborough

    Great! I’ve just registered! See you there!
    Keith

    Reply
    • Fantastic! See you on Saturday! : )

      Reply
      • Keith Rossborough

        Hi Chai
        Just to let you know, I really enjoyed catching up with you at your MELTA workshop in Munich. You raised some interesting food for thought! Do let me know whether you’ll be coming to Switzerland for this year’s ETAS, it would be nice to catch up again!
        All the best
        Keith

        Reply
  20. Hi, I really loved your “A trip down the memory lane of English teaching webinar, even though I couldn’t participate I watched it later thanks to the British Council posting on Facebbok. I’m finishing a masters programme and it was really good to review all the teaching methods and how we can take the good things from them and incorporate them in our daily practice, supporting the choice of tasks and activities we choose to include in them.I also like your coursebook-less approach to teaching, and I’m in favour of that too…I think that coursebooks do not let us be creative and really follow our students’ needs. It is also true that sometimes we have to cover a certain syllabus which is designed by the institution we are working at, and there’s little room for creativity…but I trully think that we must become more communicative oriented even though our syllabus begins with a “present simple for third person singualr” item! I wih I had more free time to read and watch all the great stuff you have in your blog….

    Reply
  21. Pingback: Effective teaching methods

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