Chia Suan Chong
Who is she?
Based in York, United Kingdom, Chia Suan Chong is a teacher, writer and communication and intercultural skills trainer. Her work includes developing language teaching resources and training in communication skills for training organisations. Since 2012, she has been blogging for English Teaching Professional on topics around language, culture, education and communication, and is currently a columnist for their bimonthly magazine.
Chia writes regularly for EtonX and has contributed to several English teaching books and journals, including Collins IELTS Dictionary, Practice Tests for IELTS 2, and ETp. York Associates' social media accounts are also under her management.
Originally from Singapore, Chia spent most of her early years there. After moving to London in 2002, Chia taught English at International House, London, and ran teacher training courses including CELTA and Cert IBET. She speaks English as a first language and also Mandarin and Japanese. Her professional experience has included teaching Business English, delivering presentations and running cultural training programs in Germany. Languages are one of her passions, and she is fascinated by the interactions between culture and communication, language and thought.
As well as the CELTA and DELTA, Chia’s academic qualifications include a TEB (Business English) certificate from LCCI, two Bachelor's degrees in Communications Studies and Broadcast and Electronic Media, and an MA from King's College London. Her MA dissertation dealt with politeness in ELF (English as a Lingua Franca).
A highly experienced writer and trainer, Chia is one of the authors of Voices, an integrated course for adults. She also developed and wrote The Pearson Cert PT, a Level 6 Trinity-accredited online teacher training course. In her book, Successful International Communication (2018), she presented the ADAPT model as a framework for dealing with intercultural conflict. She also contributes regular articles on communication skills, management skills and soft skills to EtonX and the British Council.
Chia was English Teaching Professional’s award-winning resident blogger between 2012 and 2019 and now has a regular feature called Not Only But Also in the bi-monthly ETp magazine. Chia specialises in interactive workshops that encourage reflection in order to improve international communication and collaboration, offering both online and face-to-face training to clients around the globe. Since 2005, Chia has delivered training to business executives from different parts of the globe including London, Munich, Berlin, Tokyo and Singapore.
In recent years, Chia’s major interest has been intercultural communication, the subject of her first book.
Chia Suan Chong
How Languages are Learned
Patsy Lightbown, Nina Spada
At the start of my DELTA, this was a great introduction to the theories of Second Language Acquisition and really helped me to reflect on what I do in the classroom and how I can make better choices to help my students become better learners and better communicators in English.
This book satisfied my geeky need to have an overview of everything about the English language, reaffirmed my passion for language learning and teaching and spurred my thirst to find out more about how the English language works.
Identity and Language Learning: Gender, Ethnicity and Social Change
When I think of myself in the field of language education, I identify myself as a sociolinguist, and this book was one of the key readings that probably marked the start of my journey in sociolinguistics. After all, language learning is a highly social event and it interacts with our identity and the way we see ourselves (and the way others see us) in a way that other subjects might not. This social aspect of language learning fascinates me...especially when considering how most of our students are learning English as a tool for global communication, and not necessarily to assimilate into a community that speaks English as a first language.
Beyond the Sentence: Introducing Discourse Analysis
Discourse is one of the most neglected language systems in the language teaching classroom, yet is no less important than grammar, lexis or pronunciation. This book gave a comprehensive overview of what discourse entails, breaking it down to specific areas that triggered a lot of reflection in me. This eventually led to my passion for pragmatics and sociolinguistics.
Global Dexterity: How to Adapt Your Behavior Across Cultures without Losing Yourself in the Process
This is not an ELT book as such, but it is one of my favourite books in the field of intercultural communication, and a lot of what Andy Molinsky has to say about global communication resonated strongly with me and inspired further reflection on the skills students will need in order to communicate effectively in the global arena. This book is significant in my journey in becoming an intercultural skills trainer and in writing my book Successful International Communication.
Place in HLT
Chia has contributed widely to ELT, teacher training, developing materials, writing articles on ELT and much else. In 2018 she published her book, Successful International Communication, and is the co-author of many others.
Chia believes that in today's world, HLT is about considering the psychology of the human beings in the classroom. Her views on English as a Lingua Franca, politeness, pragmatics and intercultural understanding, and student wellbeing have been explored in interviews, podcasts and articles where she advocates emphasising a holistic approach in language teaching and learning. She often deals with the affective facets of learning that have a significant impact on students’ learning. These include their motivation, their reasons for learning, the way they feel in the classroom, their awareness of where they are on their learning journey, and ultimately, their sense of achievement.
Chia is convinced of the central role played by wellbeing in learning and teaching. To make students feel they exist outside of and not just during the lesson, she believes that teachers need to set aside a certain amount of time each day to make students feel comfortable and safe in order to maintain the learning process. Teaching will be more effective if teachers first pay attention to those emotional aspects to inform their approach to teaching.
Creating effective intercultural communication in today's world is, without a doubt, her most significant contribution to HLT. Chia emphasises that most communication breakdowns do not happen because of language but rather because of a clash in the way that people from different cultural backgrounds interact. It is for this reason that she highlights the need to teach not only communication skills but also accommodation skills that enable students to be more flexible and empathetic in interactions that may not run as smoothly as they would have imagined.