Tuesday 10 January 2006
Howick teacher and community leader Song Lam Wong has been recognised for her years of commitment to improving English language education, especially in the new immigrant arena...
The Auckland University College of Education teacher says her Queen’s Service Medal for Public Services (QSM) is “unbelievable and quite surprising”.
“I try to support people. I’m doing my work for people, but if an award comes, I must just accept it.”
Ms Lam is known in eastern and Auckland communities for a determination to provide top quality English language teaching. She created the highly patronised Language Corner in 1996, after coming from Hong Kong to live in New Zealand with husband David Wong and sons Stanley and Yick in 1990.
“It’s very difficult to get an environment where people have no stress and can learn language in a relaxed way.”
She spoke no English when arriving on these shores, but her attitude to life is consistently motivated by a writing of Confucius, the ancient Chinese philosopher.
“If you work hard, you get what you want.”
Ms Lam says the Language Corner has always been a comfortable place to study, while teaching English in the new immigrant communities is a good race-relations exercise for people wanting to understand different customs and cultures.
“It’s an environment that can break down barriers between Chinese and local people.”
She’s fascinated with languages and has penned and researched seven books, education and translation publications of New Zealand systems and cultures in Mandarin, with titles such as The Maori of New Zealand and What do Children Learn in New Zealand Schools.
She’s also gained international recognition for her tireless deeds, including the Overseas Chinese Outstanding Educator Award in 2000.
There are now two Language Corner workshops and they’re at St John’s Hall, 590 Pakuranga Highway, on Saturdays at 1pm to 2.30pm, and Friendship House, level 2/20 Putney Way, Manukau, on Sundays at 9am to 10.30am.