Ronggan Zhang


I entered the teaching profession in early 1990s, and progressed from being a secondary school teacher of English, to a District level English teacher mentor in a city, to being responsible for school level EFL teacher professional development across a province in China. During the process, I earned my MA with Distinction in TESOL from the University of Leeds, and later M Phil in English and Applied Linguistics from the University of Cambridge.

The past years of my career in education has not only witnessed more government efforts invested in teacher professional development in China, but also a change of school teachers’ attitude from yearning for, to being reluctant about professional development opportunities.  As a researcher, I found the phenomenon intriguing and had a hunch about it. As a teacher of teachers, I wanted to be of better help with school teachers’ professional development. Undertaking PhD study was then in order.  

What makes me passionate about this area of study?

My hunch about teacher professional development is that sustainable professional development is needed. Figuratively speaking, sustainable professional development of teachers would resemble a well-functioning ecosystem where a teacher is like a seedling surrounded with development-friendly soil of support that empowers the teacher to thrive and grow into an individually unique flower or tree. I am passionate about the vision for the day when sustainable professional development is not just a metaphor, but real in school teachers’ lives.

I have now begun my journey towards an understanding of what sustainable professional development is and how it might be enabled to happen. Things are fascinating along the way in that they interrelate with each other in the ecosystem of my own professional development. I see my experiences in language learning and teaching, teacher mentoring, and academic training and research being brought together to make sense of the meaning of education, and understanding of language development, professional development, and human development.

To enhance understanding of sustainable professional development is happily my passion.


  • M Phil English and Applied Linguistics (Cambridge)
  • MA TESOL with Distinction (Leeds)