A dinky-di Chinese language experience for new South Aussie teachers

Preservice teachersSixteen University of South Australian third year Bachelor of Education students handpicked to undertake international pre-service teaching placements in China are currently completing their 20 day program in Shanghai.

The UniSA Shanghai International Placement program for pre-service teachers is being run in four different settings, all of which operate within the Xiehe Shanghai United International Schools within 250km of Shanghai City.

The UniSA Shanghai Xiehe International Placements are the first of a three-year project funded by the New Colombo Plan (NCP) Student Mobility Program through the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) with additional funding from a University of South Australia travel grant.

Dean and Head of UniSA’s School of Education, Professor Stephen Dobson, says the Shanghai Placements provide a really exciting opportunity for the 16 pre-service teachers to further develop their teaching skills and cultural understanding while experiencing living and learning in Shanghai.

“This experience will enable these highly committed and competent students to expand their international perspectives, intercultural understandings and global outlook and be wonderful representatives of UniSA School of Education,” Prof Dobson says.

“UniSA School of Education pre-service teachers have often been involved in short term study tours visiting schools in international settings but these are the first international teaching placements and it is fitting that they are in China and building on existing and ongoing connections.”

The New Colombo Plan aims to lift knowledge of the Indo-Pacific region in Australia and promote university and business links by supporting undergraduates in Australian universities to study in the region.

School of Education Lecturer, Rebecca Reid-Nguyen, says there are nearly 3000 students currently studying teaching at the University of South Australia and while all have to complete a number of professional placements the 16 currently in China were selected because of their high Grade Point Averages, their exceptional written applications and interviews.

“For the first time our preservice teachers will have the opportunity to undertake one of their placements abroad in China and work with cultural difference just as they will have to as graduate teachers,” Reid-Nguyen says.

“The Shanghai International Placement includes eight preparation workshops, online learning, seven days of placement in South Australian Intensive English Language Classes, 20 days of international placement in Shanghai over a 30 day period and a post assessment workshop when they return.

“The students are based across four of the Shanghai United International Schools: Hong Qiao, Pudong, Wan Yuan and Wuxi giving the pre-service teachers the opportunity to learn and teach within the ‘East meets West’ Pioneer Primary Curriculum, which aims to combine best practice in both Chinese and Western Education.

“The Pioneer Curriculum is a bilingual teaching mode with students taught concurrently by two teachers, one local Chinese school teacher and one expatriate teacher giving our students the opportunity to professionally develop intercultural education and communication skills in an authentic international context.

“Our students will experience first-hand what an international Shanghai educational setting looks like and learn from different groups of teachers and local Chinese children about what is expected of their teachers in a different socio-cultural school milieu.

“Through the international and intercultural teaching experience, our students will also develop key essential intercultural communication skills and learn to develop professionally in an international context.”

The four teams of pre-service teachers have undertaken Professional Experience course work together forming close collaborative teams.

Nikki Bulaya, Crystal Pepper, Amy Donohue and Erica Smith are currently at Hong Qiao School…

“We are excited about experiencing a new education system and being able to observe a range of teaching pedagogies and coming away with a range of new and diverse teaching strategies. We are also looking forward to immersing ourselves in another culture and being part of an international school environment.”

Emma de Cure, Jenna Negruk, Laura Chadwick and Carly Lethborg are currently at Wan Yuan School….

“The four of us are eager to share this experience with other like-minded pre-service teachers. We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate for such a culture-rich experience that is likely to be invaluable for our individual, personal and professional development. The opportunity to learn from one-another in a different cultural setting will develop professional relationships that we will be able to utilise in our future endeavours.”

Rachel Dikih, Imogen Carruthers, Tiffany Phillips and Rebecca Wagner are currently at Pudong School…

“As a group of relatively new travellers we are nervous and apprehensive. We are relying on our team member who has been to China previously to calm our nerves! Shanghai is a life changing experience. We are excited to widen our cultural understanding, expanding our world views and enhancing our ability to develop awareness and adoption of alternative, multifaceted approaches towards teaching and learning.”

Gemma Stewart, Grace Lees, Madeline Pegler and Nicole Cleggett are currently at Wuxi School…

“We are eager to immerse ourselves in the Chinese culture while on placement at Wuxi and are open-minded and positive that we will have an unbelievable experience which will broaden our cultural understanding and professional knowledge.”

UniSA School of Education Tutor, Dr Hannah Soong, will also be establishing research opportunities with the four Shanghai United International Schools over the 18 day program and the students will be part of the research in relation to their development of intercultural understandings and identity.

Professional development opportunities with the pre-service teachers as a whole group, and in teams of four, will focus on collaborative reflection opportunities comparing and contrasting the East meets West Pioneer Primary Curriculum and the Australian Curriculum.

Media Contact: Katrina McLachlan email katrina.mclachlan@unisa.edu.au mobile 0414972537

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