It is common in China for foreigners to gain employment as English language teachers, especially if you are from native speaking countries. This semester I was fortunate to be asked to teach English to Kindergarten children on a part time basis which I thought would be a wonderful opportunity to build on my employability skills and attributes.
Every Friday morning I spend 2 hours at a local kindergarten in Nanchang city where I teach six, 20 minute English language classes. Each class is at a different level of English proficiency. My first three classes are at the second level of English where they are able to recognise and speak some basic English words – Hello, Good morning, How are you, I’m fine thank you and so on. My fourth class is at level 3 proficiency where they understand concepts such as family members, basic food items and the names of various animals and objects and my last two classes consist of children aged only two and three years old and therefore have not English language understanding. These last two classes are my favourite class as I get to watch the excitement on each child’s face as I reveal the new words them each week. At first I wondered if children this young would retain any of the information that I was teaching them only to be amazed that within only a few short weeks they are able to count to 5, sing happy birthday and name basic body features such as head and nose!
I found teaching English to be very daunting at first, however I was able to build upon my skills by finding similarities to the way in which my teachers are currently teaching the foreign students at JUFE Chinese language. When learning Chinese, the teachers use a variety of techniques ranging from visual media, recorded conversations, pictures and written phrases to assist us in remembering the words, their meaning, their Chinese characters and basic sentence structures. I have been able to incorporate these techniques into my English language classes – through the use of flash card I am able to help the students associate letters and pictures with the new words, using interactive media such as PowerPoints to simulate oral conversations, role plays to visualise the meaning of the words and lots and lots of repetition and patience I can see great improvement in the proficiency levels of all of my classes each week.
From this experience I believe that I have gained many important skills and attributes such as planning, organising, initiative, flexibility, interpersonal sensitivity, leadership and self-confidence. I know longer view teaching to be a daunting task but rather I am now enjoying this amazing learning experience and Friday mornings have now become my favourite time of the week!