Alumni Win Big Textbook Tender
One of Mongolia’s largest ever education textbook tenders was recently won and completed by a consortium of five TESOL experts, three of whom are Australia Awards graduates. The tender involved extensive rewriting of English III (Grade 7) students’ and teachers’ textbooks.
Of the team of five who won the tender, three have studied in Australia under the Australia Awards program, one is a school teacher and another studied in India. “We were all very proud to win the tender… but we must admit also that we were very anxious before the tender decision was announced”, writing team co-leader Enkhbayar said. She continued that “I wrote English II (Grade 6) students’ and teachers’ textbooks with other team in the past year. The experience encouraged me to compete in the tender and write the national textbooks”.
“Our Australia Award qualifications definitely helped us win the tender,” Enkhbayar said.
She completed a Master in Applied Linguistics at the University of Adelaide in 2012, and returned then top her full-time job is as an English Language Lecturer (Translation) at Mongolian National University of Education.
Co-writer Bolormaa Batmumkh is also employed at the Mongolian National University of Education; she completed her Australia Award at the University of Melbourne in 2010, gaining her Masters of Applied Linguistics (TESOL).
The third of the trio of Australia Awardees who prepared and won the tender is Battsetseg, who is an English Language Lecturer at the Mongolian University of Humanities. Battsetseg returned home to Mongolia after completing her Master of Education (TESOL) at Monash University in 2009 and 2011.
“It was a very prestigious tender for us to win. It may not be particularly wonderful financially, but with 15400 copies of the student book to be printed, as well as teachers’ books, we feel it has been a great achievement, thanks to our Australia Award”, Enkhbayar said.
In the School of Foreign Languages at the Mongolian State University of Education, English is the largest department (includes English Language, American Studies, and ELT majors). There is a very high quality of teaching across all national university departments, particularly in the School of Foreign Languages, which has 70 lecturers and 600 students.
Other languages taught at the School of Foreign Languages include Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Russian and German. At the School, students can undertake a major which includes both English and Russian languages teaching – and thus qualify as a teacher of both languages.
It is proposing a policy that requires most teachers in secondary schools to have a Master Degree to improve the quality of English language Teaching, and the new textbooks for schools are another improvement strategy.
Other strategies to improve the quality of English lecturers in the university involve imposing a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 before being accepted as an English language lecturer. At the same time, scholarships to the University are being offered to those secondary school graduating students with high general entrance examination scores.
Enkhbayar regularly uses the skills and knowledge she gained during her Australia Award in her day-to-day work at the University, particularly research methods and critical thinking, and encourages these skills in her students.
Recently, they also used their experience in organising an essay-writing competition at the University, and in her membership of a team tasked with reviewing the University’s (English language) admission test.
Prior to taking up her Australia Award in 2010, Enkhbayar had completed her undergraduate degree at the same University where she is now lecturing. She added to her undergraduate skills with studies in English for Academic Purposes, Curriculum Development, and Computational Linguistics – at Adelaide University.
“I always wanted to gain an international scholarship so I could get access to a high-quality postgraduate education at a high-quality institution”, she said.
“My Adelaide studies paid off as I have been able to use the knowledge and skills I gained in Australia… especially by introducing new methods as text-based and genre-based approaches to teaching language.”
Nevertheless, she still feels that she should really have chosen to study “Functional Grammar” during her Australia Award, as it would better align with her skill-set and interests.
Since returning to Mongolia, Enkhbayar has written two academic articles and presented sessions at conferences – both with a focus on Computational Linguistics.
Now that she and her colleagues have successfully completed the English language textbooks,
and they books are being used in schools, Enkhbayar’s future goal is to continue with her research into a text-based approach to English Language teaching.
Enkhbayar’s colleague at the State University of Education and co-writer and publisher of the English text books, Bolormaa Batmunkh, applied for a scholarship because she wanted to update her knowledge and skills through a “world-class education in Australia”.
“The best thing about my Masters program at the University of Melbourne was the opportunity to study research methodology and curriculum development – and to develop my critical thinking skills”, Bolormaa said.
“Now I can confidently write research, academic, and scholarly articles”.
Bolormaa advises potential Australia Award applicants to thoroughly explore the fields of study available and courses before applying.
“Really research all the information you need… Don’t just have a quick look at the university websites”, she said.
Although Bolormaa was very busy in Australia with her studies, she still found time for socialising, sightseeing and making Australian friends.
Since returning to Mongolia, she has presented the results of her Australia Award studies to a meeting of young lecturers at her University.
The third member of the trio of Australia Award graduates who rewrote the Mongolian English language textbook, is Battsesteg Doljin – a Master of Education (TESOL) graduate from Monash University, in 2011.
Battsetseg is now employed as an English Language Lecturer at the University of Humanities (UOH), where as a student she originally majored in Russian – English Translation.
“The University of Humanities has always enjoyed a very good reputation for foreign language teaching”, Battsetseg said. “ I had wonderful teachers who made me see the beauty of learning foreign languages”.
Upon completing her Bachelor’s degree at the UOH, Battsetseg worked for two years at the Institute of Tourism Management, after working briefly as a translator in a construction business. However, she eventually found her ”niche” in teaching.
And in the summer, she also works as an English language tour guide ; she estimates that so far, she has visited almost two-thirds of Mongolia.
“I was happy when our team won the tender, and a little worried because it was huge responsibility”, she explained.
“But, of course, it was a good start for us. This is a real feather in our caps. I am very proud of what we have achieved. Here, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to all of our team members for the enormous work: M.Bulgantsetseg, L. Enkhbayar, B. Bolormaa and S. Narantsetseg”.
Battsetseg believes that she used all of the knowledge and skills gained during her Australia Award while developing the text books back in Mongolia, in particular, the ones acquired through Language and Identity, Curriculum Development and Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) courses at Monash and still uses them on a daily basis in her role as lecturer at the UOH.
“I hope , in the future, the TESOL alumni of Australia Awards would work together on building new courses for students, introduce new language learning and teaching approaches and write even more textbooks.”
Current Director of the School of Foreign Languages of the National University of Education, Professor Tsogzolmaa, has known two of the Australia Award graduates who worked on the textbooks for more than 10 years.
“During these years I have seen the professional skills and abilities that Bolormaa and Enkhbayar have developed through their work experience and educational upgrading in their Masters Programs”, Professor Tsogzolmaa said.
“I have always found them to be professionally strong, active and energetic.”
The Professor also said that one of the Australia Award graduates has successfully played a key role in the implementation of DynEd project, which is aimed at introducing new teaching methods for undergraduate students.
“Graduates (of Australia Awards) are also excellent in providing professional guidance and modifying teaching procedure and practices – by using the critical and analytical thinking skills that they gained in Australia.”
Professor Tsogzolmaa said that reintegration planning for graduates after they return to Mongolia provides basic guidance to alumni to think about and identify returns to education. She sees such planning as an important aspect of the Australia Awards program.
“Reintegration plans help to make sure that the graduates’ skills become even more useful to a wider group of academics at their workplaces – in our case at the University.”
Professor Tsogzolmaa also recommends that, in the future, English language teachers should consider applying for Masters studies in areas other than TESOL, perhaps in topics that require specific qualifications and research skills in language, culture and countries studies.