The China Experiment

In 2018, I was approached to instruct masterclasses in teaching in Shenzhen, China.  What a fantastic opportunity!  I’d wanted to visit China for a long time, and have always been fascinated by its culture, geography, and people.

A one-week visit lead to a 3-year project with a selected group of 30 high-school English teachers.  My role was to guide and mentor these teachers in their approach and methodology.  Of course, I had my doubts – the Chinese education system is vastly different from the West’s, and I wondered if my student-centred approach based on connection and compassion would even make sense in such an outcomes-based, exam-centred paradigm.

My trainees were so open to new ideas, even if their implementation was a little forced.  The younger trainees (maybe only in their first 2 or 3 years of teaching) were the most adaptable, and the senior teachers worked hard to show they could grow and change.

They could all see the sense of what I wanted – that they use English at all times in their classes, that they see their students as more than just memory-machines, and that they plan for more production of English by their students – more speaking and writing.

After 3 visits to China, COVID-19 put an end to international trips and we moved online for another year of instruction; unfortunately, at the end of 2021, the Chinese Bureau of Education cancelled all international programmes.  I am disappointed that I never got to observe my trainees teaching in the flesh, though I did get to see them teach on video.  Their own evaluations showed that they saw the need for what I was teaching, and that their students responded very positively to the changes they were making in lesson planning and teaching.

I hope to return to China one day.  I am enormously proud of what my trainees and I achieved, and I hope their students are continuing to receive the advantage of blending the Eastern and Western models of education.

Do you have a project or training opportunity that you would like to discuss? Please get in touch to get the ball rolling.