Over 100 rural teachers receive training in Beijing
A total of 110 teachers selected from the rural areas of seven Western Chinese provinces are now in Beijing for a week-long training course.
Teachers have come from as far as Gansu, Shaanxi, and Ningxia Hui Autonomous region.
During this week, they will be taught new skills that will help improve the standard of English language teaching in their classrooms. Liu Min has more.
The Shijia Primary School and 'Education First', a global language training company, have arranged a course that will help lift the standard of English language teaching in provinces in Western China.
In addition to this, the foreign language college of the prestigious Peking University will also give lectures and arrange a series of other educational activities during the week-long charity program.
Zhang Namei, a teacher with a school in Jiayuguan, a city in Gansu province, is one of the 110 local teachers involved in the program. She says the demo lessons provided by teachers with the primary school have impressed her the most.
"I attended the lecture given by teachers from the Shijia Primary School in Beijing this morning, and found that 3rd grade students here have reached the grade-level goals for the sixth-grade students in my hometown in terms of oral English. I think students in China's remote western regions have already been left far behind. The most fulfilling experience during the trip comes from the demonstrative lectures given in Shijia Primary School. Since the ability of the teacher is a decisive factor in students' quality of learning, we as teachers, need to keep up to date with our vision of fulfilling our life goals, both for ourselves and for others."
Li Jing is an official with the local educational department of Gansu Province. He is also in Beijing, observing the opening of the week-long training sessions for their local teachers.
"Through the progress these teachers will make in their language ability, you are expected to create a light, delightful environment for the local students in Gansu to study English. I hope the ultimate beneficiaries, the students, will enjoy learning English, rather than viewing it as just a study task."
Over 100 village teachers listen to lectures on April 4, 2017 in School of Foreign Languages of Peking University. [Photo: provided to China Plus]
The free educational trip is sponsored by a charity program initiated by a volunteer association located in Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu.
The charity has been operational for ten years and is dedicated to training rural teachers.
Xu Liping is a staff member with the volunteer association. She also helps organize activities for the teachers in Beijing.
She recalls how this charity program was started back in 2007.
"When I first launched this charity program 11 years ago, the selected teachers earned a salary of only 47 yuan, or less than 7 US dollars. A teacher taught all the classes covering art, music, physical education etc. But they had never been to famous places like the Great Wall or Tian'anmen Square. We asked these teachers how they used to describe these famous landmarks to their students; they answered that they could only tell using their imagination."
After the lessons at Shijia Primary School, the teachers continued to receive training in the EF centers.
Jean Liu is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs of EF.
"I hope these teachers are able to learn, from a different perspective, how English is taught as a foreign language. They began by attending a demo lesson in Shijia Primary School. This is something that is rare even for local Beijing teachers. Later, they are scheduled to arrive at EF's training center, where they will be trained by a total of six international teachers, including a trainer who guides them on how to teach. They have all been well prepared for this lecture."
Rob Hatt is one of the six foreign teachers assigned to help these visiting teachers.
"The initial training is a very good opportunity to share basic teaching skills not just for learners of their second language, but for any kind of learner. So those would involve things like setting up classrooms, correcting errors, making sure you have the correct voice and tone and presence in the classroom. And when they go back to the different towns and cities, they will have the opportunity to put these theories and activities to use. Based on that, there would be feedback from them back to us, as to how it worked. We hope from there, we are able to arrange more follow-up observation training depending on their needs."
In fact, a one-week study plan is not enough. Realizing steady assistance is needed for these village teachers, Jean Liu's company has decided to extend the trip to a half-year long online program.
Jean Liu explains again:
"We have a follow-up plan to offer 1000 rural teachers from Gansu online English training for six months. During this period, my organization would also send teachers to the rural regions of Gansu, arranging workshops and forums with local teachers. In the second phase, our responsibilities may include helping local teachers improve both their language abilities as well as their level of teaching."
The EF Kids and Teens Product Manager Rob Hatt trains village teachers on their way of classroom interactions on Thursday afternoon, April 6, 2017 in Beijing.[Photo: provided to China Plus]
Interactive lectures and outdoor activities also complement their week-long stay.
Xu Liping, the trip's organizer, thinks they should also employ resources that take learning outside the classroom to enrich the teachers' schedule.
"One of their destinations is the prestigious Peking University, where some professors are assigned to give lectures to these teachers. As the organizer, I also hope that this will broaden their horizons through their first ever study trip to Beijing. We also arranged some events alongside the lectures, like a trip to a Space City in Beijing which is hopefully interesting to them and allows them to meet astronauts."
In China, children who live in urban areas with better schools and educational facilities usually receive better educational opportunities and experiences. This charity program, gathers three organization's strength and aims to narrow down the imbalance in educational resources between China's rural and urban areas, and also gifts rural children a brighter future.