Based in the McClay Library, Liang performs a dual academic and professional support role for the University, centred around language support.
What does your role involve?
As Language Support Officer my role involves primarily promoting language courses for non-special purposes to students and staff members at Queen's. Alongside the language courses, I’m also working with my colleagues to provide learning support such as identifying quality resources, offering general language learning advice and cultural awareness training, as well as facilitating language/culture-related events and activities to celebrate the richness of linguistic and cultural assets that our multicultural campus embraces.
In addition, I lecture the International Business with Mandarin Chinese modules for the degree pathway programme jointly with Queen's Business School and the School of Arts, English and Languages.
What does an average day look like for you?
As a full-time staff member undertaking both academic teaching and professional support, I spend most of my time on campus. When there are scheduled teaching sessions, I prioritise my work on teaching preparation or review. When not teaching, I switch to working within the Language Centre team, answering various types of queries through emails and phone calls. I will also have scheduled meetings to attend and appointments to make, all for the purpose of providing better support to students and staff members at Queen's.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’ve been leading the Tandem Language Exchange programme which provides an ongoing platform for students, as well as staff members, who would like to pair up with native speakers of the language they would like to develop, to support them to further develop their language skills and cultural knowledge in a friendly, flexible and informal way. This way, like-minded people interested in language learning at Queen's can form an informal learning community that celebrates diversity and promotes inclusivity and respect through mutual support.
Since August 2021 I have been working on the Celebrating Culture Diversity at Queen’s project jointly launched by The Language Centre and iRise, which invites both staff and students to share their knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm of their linguistic and cultural events so that we can build up a repertoire and make plans for joint celebrations in the future.
What do you find most rewarding about your role?
The most rewarding aspect of my role is the great opportunity to be in touch with students and staff from all subject and support areas, enabling an interdisciplinary and inter-sector approach to understanding the variety of interest in language and culture-related needs, use and production. Of course, I’m far from reaching that target but I enjoy the learning of it. This, in turn, enables me to update and upgrade myself both personally and professionally.
What are the challenges?
The main challenge is that I am fully aware of the limitations of reaching every corner of the University in terms of understanding what kind of intercultural language learning support people will need, and of our capacity of responding to such needs and demands.
What makes you most proud about your contribution to our University community?
I’m really proud of being part of the Language Centre team, which is small in scale but very powerful in delivering our services to those who approach us. In particular, I take pride in the Chinese Culture Forum that has been established since I joined Queen’s, with the support from my team and more recently in collaboration with iRise (Queen's BAME and International Staff Network). The Forum has been developed as an intercultural and interdisciplinary, knowledge-based and action-oriented platform enabling people to not only learn about Chinese language and culture, but also to develop an intercultural understanding between the Chinese community and other local and international communities at Queen’s and elsewhere. Each time I receive a thank-you message from a student or a colleague for whatever I have done for them (sometimes I even don't remember what that might have been!), I feel great pleasure and a sense of fulfilment in having contributed to University life.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time? Since my baby boy joined the family in December 2019, I've found I do not have much freedom to do the things I like – such as playing table tennis. I used to play with QUB Table Tennis and Ormeau Table Tennis teams for league matches. That was a sensational time! But when Jake (Jiankuan), my son, grows a bit older, I will definitely put table tennis back on my family agenda.
I also like gardening, although I’m not that good at it. Seeing a bud turn into a blossom is a very exciting feeling, helping me learn to appreciate life – my own and the lives of others.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
The best advice I have ever obtained is from reading the late Professor FEI Xiaotong (1910-2005), who is a respected and reputed anthropologist and sociologist born in my hometown. I’d like to share his words with all:
"Cherish one's own beauty, respect other's beauty, and when both beauties are respected and cherished, the world will become one" ("各美其美，美人之美，美美与共，天下大同").
What is your favourite app?
My favourite app is WeChat because this is the most important channel helping me keep close ties with not only my families and relatives in China, but also friends, old and new, including our Queen’s Chinese students and alumni. It enables me to receive the most up-to-date and vivid life stories from them, which will become the knowledge and experience I can share with my Queen’s colleagues and students who would like to develop their understanding of my country and my people. In particular, I'm able to collect some very vivid and interesting images as teaching resources to show to my students in class. Sometimes images speak louder than words.