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【Model Teachers at XMU】 Yang Xinzhang: Rigorous Scholarship,Indefatigable in Teaching
Updated: 2019-12-10 Hits:

[Introduction] Yang Xinzhang is a professor and doctoral supervisor of the College of Foreign Languages and Cultures. He has served as a member of The National Advisory Committee on Teaching English Languages to Majors in Higher Education under the Ministry of Education and a member of China National Committee for Translation & Interpreting Education. And he is currently the President of the Association of Foreign Languages and Literature, Fujian Province. With research areas focusing on functional linguistics and discourse analysis, he has published more than 90 articles on linguistics, discourse analysis and language teaching at home and abroad, and published more than 20 books, textbooks and dictionaries; presided over and undertaken 14 scientific research projects, including 2 National Social Science Fund Projects, 2 doctoral programs of humanities and social sciences and 1 new era online course project under the Ministry of Education. His scientific research achievements have won provincial and municipal social science outstanding achievement awards for 11 times, and his lecture on contemporary linguistics was awarded the "National Quality Course" in 2008. He was listed as a Star Teacher in Fujian Province in 2009.

Prof Yang is a serious, rigorous, highly-accomplished and well-respected scholar who has won the love of students with his abundant knowledge, superb teaching level and noble morality.

"The first thing about study is to get interested. If you are not interested, you will definitely be unable to continue." Yang said when talking about how to enter the field of linguistics research. In the early 1980s, it was a booklet introducing linguistics at a bookstore that opened the door to linguistic research for him. In 1988, selected by the Sino-Australian Cultural Exchange Program, Yang went to the University of Sydney to study related courses of functional grammar, and there he met famous scholars in the field of systemic functional linguistics such as Michael Halliday, James Martin, Christian Matthiessen and Geoff Williams. After returning to China, Yang actively participated in the conferences on systemic functional linguistics, which opened up his academic research career path in this area. For Yang, language is not only a tool for daily communication in life, but help reveal people's potential, establish the connection between people and expresses their understanding of the world. He also thought that language subjects, between pure humanities and pure science disciplines, contain not only quantitative analysis and statistics but also humanity. In addition to linguistic studies, Yang also loves the editing and translation of dictionaries, and participated in the compilation and translation of several dictionaries, including the Macmillan English-Chinese Dictionary for Advanced Learners (2005), Oxford English-Chinese Dictionary of Linguistics (2006) and so on.

"Persevering without any slack, innovate with endless enthusiasm", this may be the best summary of Yang's academic spirit. Even when taking administrative work from 1996 to the end of 2012, Yang continued his academic research and achieved fruitful results. At the same time, as a scholar, Yang also paid great attention to maintaining professional sensitivity and tracking the development of the discipline. In the past, traffic condition was relatively poor, and it was inconvenient to go far for attending academic conferences. For example, it took 30 hours to travel to Shanghai by train. However, in order to understand the academic frontiers, Yang kept participating in conferences in various professional fields regardless of long-distance work. Today, Yang has reached the age of retirement, and he has more time than before, but he still concentrates on academic research.


"Teaching is a sort of art." In Yang's view, teaching is a process of transmission. Engaging in research is only one aspect, how to pass on your research results is another complicated process. A good teacher needs to first estimate the knowledge that the students already acquired, so as to determine the content of the lecture. When talking about the way of teaching, Yang believes that from the perspective of educational sociology, knowledge imparting should be "wave-shaped" that requires a step-by-step explanation and advancement process. In the classroom, he always combines the deep abstract concept with daily life examples. This makes the content vivid and easy to understand and fully stimulates the learning interest of students. Compared with the traditional classroom teaching style, Yang prefers the interactive teaching method. The timely communication including interactions with the students can help understand the classroom situation better and adjust the teaching process timely according to the students' understanding. After Yang's class, students often ask questions around him. "It is a good thing that students have questions, and sometimes I can't answer some of them, but it doesn't matter, this urges me to devote myself. This kind of communication is also a challenge for teachers - Teachers who teach people for a lifetime should learn for a lifetime." Yang said.

May it be undertaking busy administrative work or returning to teaching after retirement this year, Yang is always highly enthusiastic and patient, insisting on first-line teaching, and teaching undergraduate students to doctoral students at all stages.

In the eyes of the students, Yang is a respected scholar who is tireless in teaching, gentle and modest. Even if he has achieved outstanding achievements, he still strictly challenges himself and always teaches students: "Real scholars must immerse themselves in their research work, be focused and reap real research results." Even standing on the podium of XMU's "Top Ten of My Favorite Teachers" in 2018, he still modestly said, "I am a bit embarrassed about this honor. Although I have made some achievements in teaching and research work, I feel that it's not enough, and I will continue to work harder in the future."

In the eyes of the students, he is also an amiable teacher. Jutharat, a PhD student from Thai, described his mentor Yang as a kind, knowledgeable, and motivating teacher. Chen Minghui, a doctoral student, mentioned that Yang not only "study seriously and rigorously" but "does things very carefully", and his "macro-control and micro-release" training methods enable students to "spread their wings like eagles, and gradually develop independent research".

The three-foot platform has stood for a half-life belief. Real scholars, such as Yang, will always maintain their enthusiasm for rigorous and pragmatic study, reaching far in a quiet manner, and enjoying themselves while at it; excellent teachers, such as Yang, are always full of enthusiasm, cultivating talents by precept and example through life, devoting themselves to the career they love, and educating and guiding generations of students.



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