This summer saw two groups of UK teachers heading to East China Normal University, Shanghai, to participate in the Language Enhancement and Experience China courses, for non-native proficient and beginner (respectively) level teachers of Chinese, provided by Hanban and East China Normal University. Feedback shows that, overall, there was a lot of value in participating, both from classroom input and also from the experience of being in China itself.Here’s some words from the participants themselves.
Experience China Course
Two Experience China participants were kind enough to write about their experience, the first is James Marnell, a primary school teacher in the North West of England:
I was asked to introduce Mandarin to our curriculum.. At first, I was nervous as I spoke very little Mandarin prior to teaching. When I heard about the Experience China Course, I was extremely keen and knew it would be the perfect opportunity to develop my skills and network with other like-minded teachers. I knew that this course would be useful but it far exceeded my expectations. My visit to Shanghai was, without a doubt, the most incredible and beneficial teaching course I have experienced.
The classes were extremely well-delivered by teachers who were clearly experienced in teaching foreign people. They were very patient and pushed us to learn and practise to the extent of our capability. Lessons were engaging and thorough and teachers adapted well to our pace and understanding. We covered a range of topics from numbers to family to restaurant vocabulary and were given opportunities to engage in role play and practise speaking.
We [also] immersed ourselves in different Chinese culture activities such as calligraphy, Chinese painting and tai chi. As well as being fun and enjoyable, these activities allowed us an insight into life in China and I look forward to taking these experiences back to school.
My time in Shanghai has opened my eyes to a whole new world and I quickly felt much more confident in practising Mandarin in restaurants and shops – a level of fluency that I didn’t believe I could be capable of in just two weeks! I have been given a huge head start in my Mandarin learning and I feel very fortunate to have taken part in such an amazing experience. (James Marnell, Beechwood Primary School)
Katharine Mundy, who has become Head of MFL at Christ’s College Finchley, joined the course to support Chinese at her school. Here’s what she said about her experience:
The course was an amazing opportunity to learn Mandarin and experience Chinese culture first-hand with like-minded teachers from around the UK and Ireland (and some colleagues from Mumbai). On the beginner course our lessons were fun and fast-paced – we learnt the language through role play, media and games and had taster lessons in Chinese painting and Tai Chi. My teacher was passionate about teaching Chinese and tailored the lessons to the individuals in the group.
After lessons there was the chance to practise what we had learnt from ordering food and shopping to haggling in local markets in Shanghai and neighbouring towns. I have come away inspired to continue my language learning journey and start teaching beginner Chinese at my school. I would thoroughly recommend the course! (Katherine Mundy, Christ’s College)
Language Enhancement Course
The Language Enhancement Course was a topic-based course, mixing group research and discussion, lectures from ECNU tutors and teacher-input; Here’s what some of the Language Enhancement participants had to say about their time in Shanghai:
“I found the lectures very informative. In the afternoons it was good when people from outside came into class for us to interview them about the topic… it was good Chinese speaking practice. I liked the research in groups/ discuss in different groups structure- I will try this with my classes in the UK.” (Lynette Martin, Oldmachar Academy)
“I found the speaking groups in the morning really useful and especially enjoyed the lectures re Chinese culture… I have acquired lots of genuine teaching materials, as well as ideas.” (Ruth Winnifrith, Magdalen College Junior School)
Several participants particularly enjoyed the input from Chinese lecturers and Shanghai locals- both of which would be very difficult to provide in the UK- commenting:
“[I liked] having the opportunity to discuss family and education with Chinese people.” (Nancy Ryder, Coopers Company and Coburn School)
“Interviewing the Chinese lecturer and university students… gave me a much more in-depth knowledge about family life here.” (Stefanie Behrens, Belvedere Academy)
If you, or any of your colleagues would like to participate in either of these courses, please express your interest (stating which course) to firstname.lastname@example.org . Courses running in 2017 will be dependent on interest, so please don’t miss this opportunity!