Children Teaching Adults, Really?
A lot has been documented about the foreign teacher trudging thousands of miles to teach English as a foreign language. Many expats and foreign students in China have joined the new English Language Education Frontier. A quick glance at the daily new job openings on echinacities and many more job sites in China show that the demand for English Language teachers is far greater than the rate of supply.
Yet this yearning for intercultural communication and language acquisition often exist sometimes in equilbrium with the foreign teacher learning as much as the students. The Red Dragon---China has been roaring economically over the past 30 years and is also keen on flexing its soft power. All across the globe from highways to highspeed rail, news channels to Confucius institutes, China has been deepening its interaction with the outside world. It's the second wave of "改革开放“-opening up and reform.
If China as we expect will continue to rise creating a level playing field interntationally betweem the West and the East, there is no better place to be than here and no better time than now! As teachers, we must consider ourselves equally fortunate to be part of this early movement. Our grandkids will look at us as the 'movers and shakers of this era.'
From my own personal experiences teaching in Nanjing, Suzhou and Hangzhou, I have learnt much about the Chinese language, history and culture from interacting with my students. My first real appreciation for the moon festival was in the classroom. I learnt the emotionalism behind the Sino-Japan conflict from teenagers far removed from those heart wrenching years of chaos. On the faces of my charges, I see the hopes and aspirations of a new generation of Chinese citizens that cements in my mind China's 'peaceful rise theory' in international relations and world politics.
Children teching adults, really? Yes! The children are the future and there is much we can learn from them if we are open to learning as they are. As teachers we must also allow our students' voices to be heard. Our ears should not only be trained for speaking and phrasing errors but to the refrain of hope and bliss from their lips.
I totally agree that we can learn from our students as they will either provide you with great materials for you to teach the language related to their daily lives. Most importantly as educators we could gain more rather than turn a deaf ear. Language is just a communication tools for leaners but we should have an open mind to absorb and regenerate such invaluable exchanges. We teach and learn at the same time to evolve.
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