Moray House School of Education and Sport

Xiaohuan Hao, MSc Language Education 2022

'Many courses in language teaching are integrated with sociological theory. This has enabled me to think about students, education and society on a broader level.'

Xiaohuan Hao
Xiaohuan Hao

Before coming to Edinburgh to study, Xiaohuan worked as a Chinese as a second language teacher in South Korea and Shanghai for ten years.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh?

The first reason was that I had hit a bottleneck in my teaching and career and needed a Master’s degree to improve my qualifications and expand my knowledge. The second was because I wanted to experience the excellent education system my European and American students were receiving, as it would help me better understand the learners and education. In addition, the University of Edinburgh has an excellent reputation, and its one-year Master's programme was able to meet all of my needs very well. In fact, it completely exceeded my expectations.

Why did you choose to study this degree?

Because I want to continue my Chinese language education after graduation. This degree programme is not just for teaching English. It allows me to use language teaching theories to reflect on and solve the problems I encounter in teaching Chinese. Also, many courses in language teaching are integrated with sociological theory. This has enabled me to think about students, education and society on a broader level.

What did you enjoy most about the programme?

All the courses and workshops are very well set up. The teachers are role models and are very good at encouraging students and supporting them in every way, whether physically or mentally.

Many of the language teaching theories I have learnt here are quite advanced and have helped me broaden my horizons, think dialectically about language education and exercise my critical thinking.

Source of Knowledge (SoK) and Conceptualising Research (CR) are my favourite courses, with SoK focusing on the research paradigms and philosophies and CR focusing on applications. The great thing about these two courses is that when I see an article, by analysing which paradigm it falls into, I would know where it sits in its academic field and where it has been and can be studied in the future. Also, through both courses, I realised that quite a lot of theories are not right or wrong, they are just interpreted from different perspectives, and as long as you can make it sound logical and have enough evidence to support it, it is convincing. I have also applied these philosophical principles to explain social phenomena and problems I encounter, as well as to contemplate my own life. They worked very well.

What specific skills did you develop?

The ability to solve problems, conduct independent scientific research, find relevant papers, read academic papers in English quickly, write papers, and think critically.

What was the most useful thing you learned in your lectures, workshops and tutorials?

What I found most useful were the ideas and methods for doing research and solving problems I encountered in my teaching process independently.

Why would you recommend the programme to others?

Regardless of previous teaching experience, acquiring the theory and skills of language teaching is very helpful in (preparing) you to be a good educator.

In what way do you think the degree will contribute to your career?

Firstly, I improved my qualifications so that I could apply for more and better paid jobs. Secondly, I have learnt how to analyse and solve problems in my work by reading literature and doing teaching experiments. Thirdly, I am more sensitive to various phenomena in the teaching process and I will be able to notice and accumulate problems in teaching for further research in the future. Fourthly, I will be able to apply some practical principles about teaching and learning to my future classroom, to build a more positive relationship with students and to stimulate their autonomy in learning. Finally, I have experienced some difficulties during my year abroad, but more importantly, I have grown physically and mentally in the process of solving them.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying this programme at Edinburgh?

The course is more academic in nature, with less course content on teaching practice itself. Those choosing this course should consider whether it meets their individual needs.


What is your current role or occupation?

Chinese language teacher at the University of Costa Rica.

How did your experience at Edinburgh help you get where you are today?

My experience of living in an intercultural context and my understanding of language education in different cultures have made me a global citizen who dares to challenge the more diverse possibilities.

What advice would you have for someone looking to work in your industry?

Look at your future development with an open mind, practice more and reflect more.