Chinese teachers adjust to British classrooms

[Source] [Time]    2018-01-02 11:00:20 

Volunteer teachers at training conference.

Gao Xinpei arrived in Britain three months ago to teach Mandarin to students at primary and secondary schools and soon realized the classroom experience in the UK is unlike the one back home.

"I had to learn how to manage class behavior," she said. "It is totally different to China and I couldn't get used to it at first."

The 25-year-old was sharing her experiences at a teacher training conference in London.

"Some of the behavior was very hard to handle and they would talk a lot in class and refuse to focus. It is so unlike pupils in China."

Gao is part of an effort to increase the number of people in the UK able to speak the language.

This year, the UK government introduced a 10 million pound scheme to get more than 5,000 secondary school students fluent in Mandarin by 2020. It has been launched at 15 secondary schools where pupils will study for eight hours a week for four years.

China's teaching methods are intensive, with long days and the kind of discipline Westerners consider strict. British-style teaching allows students to share perspectives, express opinions and raise questions.

"I play games and activities with the primary school children," Gao said. "I need to use teaching methods that keep the students interested and engaged while learning Chinese. If I just spoke at them all day, the children would get bored."

Training programs such as one she spoke at from the London Confucius Institute help volunteer teachers from China learn about integrating into UK schools.

Around 200 Chinese-language teachers are working in schools across Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

Guo Yayan, 24, has been teaching Mandarin for a year and a half.

"At first, students would ask me questions like, 'do Chinese people eat dog?' and 'why do Chinese families only have one child?' These questions made me uncomfortable … But now I am able to let the pupils know about Chinese culture," Guo said. "Students in the UK are very competitive, very active and they want to express themselves."

And the teachers are also applying some Chinese methods.

Gao Xinpei said: "I go into the classroom and say in Chinese 'class is in session' and the children will stand up and say 'hello teacher' also in Chinese. It's not something they usually do in class."

The educators said they are learning to take the best from both systems.

(By Bo Leung


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