Growing With the CLE: A Staff Student’s Journey


By: Matthew Jellick and Jenson Zheng

English is a journey of language development and through the Staff English Classes within the CLE, we help to provide our students with a roadmap. 

One student, Shui (Jenson) Zheng, was able to complete nearly two years within this program and is using his extended English acquisition as he embarks upon a new educational journey, going to study his PhD at University of Technology, Sydney. 

Attending the Staff English classes is an unforgettable memory during my two years of working as a research assistant at SUSTech. It is a student-centered class that be divided into three levels: intermediate, intermediate and advanced. Each level has its learning materials and topics. For example, we will learn some basic daily used words and short sentences in the elementary class, teacher Matthew will encourage us to make sentences with these words and have short conversionswith class members. From elementary class, I learn the differences between house, apartment, studio, flat, etc. Also, we learn how to describe different facilities in a house. It is easy for me to rent a room in Sydney since I enroll at UTS as an international student.

In the intermediate and advanced classes, Matthew always strive to create a language-rich classroom environment where we are engaged to be active participants. We talk about movies andbreaking news, have presentations about our hometown or travel, and share our life values, etc.

At the end of each semester, we as a big family will have a potluck party, everyone contributes a different, often homemade dish of food to be shared. It is very interesting experience that we can have a bite of different kinds of food and more importantly can explore the culture behind the food.

Apart from the indoor classes, Matthew also try to hold other English related activities such as coffee social, English books reading, weekend movie and eating outside. We are encouraged to speak and share our thought with others in these activities. Before I came to staff English classes, I even cannot speak English fluently, I can only speak some short sentences and I do not know whether I am speaking correctly although I have studied English for more than 15 years. Sometimes, I am just thinking about what kind of language should we learn many years but cannot use it proficiently. To some extent, the staff English push me to think deep about my many years of English learning experience and even our education system.

In fact, English classes in my country are truly examination-oriented, we are busy to recite words, to do strange English close, to practice English reading comprehension. We almost only speak English in the classes with strange accent but even our English teaches cannot speak clearly English or using English correctly. I know it is not these English teachers’ fault because they are also be taught by their teachers like that. It is true that there are some talented students who areskilled in using English. I guess this is attributed to special family backgrounds or other special opportunities, a majority of students only have normal education or family environment. I do think that any languages including English are created by humans to communicate effectively but not to pass examinations. Examinations are just one way to learn English, however we learn English to pass examinations.

At the beginning of our school life, we are taught to obey many rules and to be ‘good’ students.During many years of education, we are all trained to have the similar thinking pattern and used to hide our true thoughts. At last, we don’t know how to express our true feelings, we gradually lost ourselves, we don’t know what dreams we should have. We stay on campus many years and we haven’t had time to think about how to spend my life. Suddenly, we step into the world and start to work for living or living for work, the society push us to buy priceless houses, expensive cars andwork hard and hard. Finally, we realize that we are all ordinary people, we are bored and we are sometimes helpless. We are known that life only happen once and should make the best of it, but it is very difficult to go outside of comfort zone or take potential risks.

The staff English means a lot to me. Matthew is not only my teacher but also my good friend now, he showed us an optimistic and cheerful lifestyle, he shares us his life experience and promote us to think more.

Zhang Shui (Jenson)


Sydney, Australia