Not having any knowledge of teaching has proven to be quite a learning experience. Which is exactly why I choose to pursue this teaching internship at Jinqiao Bilingual School in China. I really wanted to get an insight into what it was like to not only teach children, but also what it might be like to be a foreign teacher. I can say this internship has truly enlightened me on the life of a foreign English teacher.
Certified English Teacher
Week one of the internship was training week. I observed the classes of another foreign English teacher for a week and talked with her about her job at Jinqiao. The next week I began teaching. Just like that. You may be thinking, you are just an intern, with no college degree or teaching certification, how much do you actually get to do? Well, everything really. I found my qualifications didn’t really matter, my native English ability was the important thing. As an intern at this school, I do the same lesson planning as the real teachers, teach the same number of classes, and plan my own lessons. I am a teacher. Now in week seven, I find that most of the Chinese kindergarten teachers don’t even know that I am a university student. I have received many complements on my teaching ability. I guess I must be doing something right.
At first, I was very concerned about how this internship was going to go. I was afraid of public speaking and I didn’t know the first thing about teaching. I had not taken any classes on how to lesson plan, nor had I had any education on teaching children. I do, however, have plenty of volunteer experience working with children. With this in mind, I was up for the challenge. Through observation, questions, and my past knowledge, I learned where I might begin. I was nervous about meeting my students and I was told that most of my students knew absolutely no English. For some of the children, I was the first foreigner they had ever seen. I found this to be quite interesting. During my first of week, I got lots of wide-eyed smiles and one little girl even cried.
Before each class I have nervous butterflies, but when I enter the classroom they go away. All the children are excited to talk to me (even though we cannot understand each other most of the time) and they are very happy to have me in their classroom. I think my favorite moments are when the kids catch a glimpse of me in the hall, smile and frantically wave their arms to get my attention.
Stickers and fun
Some tips I would give about teaching English to kindergarteners: Have fun and smile. They are small children barely learning English. They will continue to learn English through the remainder of their education, so why not make it fun? I would also suggest stickers and games! They love stickers, so they are a great motivation prize. Small children don’t have much of an attention span, so make whatever you’re doing engaging, and use plenty of games. It is helpful to learn a few phrases in Chinese to help you communicate with your kids. In each class you will have Chinese kindergarten teachers to aid you, but they are not there all the time. It’s beneficial if you learn how to say, “What is this?” and “Look at me”. Take a chance, give it your best, and make the most of your experiences.