After years of teaching in Australasia and Scandinavia, Adika’s international teaching experience has now brought her to China. What a contrast! A move to Asia has totally opened up her teaching experience. In this blog she tells us of her experience so far at EtonHouse International Pre-School, a bilingual school in Shanghai.
My husband and I moved to Shanghai, China in February this year after I got offered a job to work for a bilingual international school. My husband is French and for the both of us, it was our first time working and living in Asia. When we arrived, we didn’t know what to expect. Though we had read a lot, we kept our minds open. We had spoken to various people and asked around about China, and Shanghai particularly. We had mixed responses but we still followed through and came to China.
Tell us about the school group
My school is a great international school because not only it is international, it is bilingual. EtonHouse International Pre-School is one of the leading international school groups in Asia and originates from Singapore. The school group has more than 100 schools across 12 countries and promotes Reggio Emilia pedagogy with a strong emphasis on bilingualism of the Mandarin and English languages.
What about your school in particular?
Our school in Shanghai is actually in the process of becoming an IB PYP school. We have classes from Pre-Nursery to Year 3. We are fully occupied and our students range from a mix of expatriates, foreign and local Chinese nationals. Parents at our school choose us because we are bilingual and international. What I love about working here is that the experience has really supported and helped me settle into China and as a result I am learning a new language, culture and perspective on education. Both my husband and I were welcomed very warmly here by my school and everyone we have met here in Shanghai. The Chinese people are very generous and kind. China is a thriving, developing and fast-growing economy as most of its people value education as one of the most important assets, followed by family and success.
What is it like teaching in a bilingual school?
What is really amazing is that children as young as 2 years old are capable of learning English and Mandarin at the same time, and this is evident in my school. In every class, we have an international core teacher like myself, a Mandarin teacher and 2 assistant teachers, this drives the learning in the setting. Both the core and Mandarin teachers work collaboratively together to ensure that the planning and curriculum are in sync so that the children will benefit from a sound bilingual program. Then the assistant teachers help the core and Mandarin teachers in the classroom day to day. I have found this setup amazing; working and teaching in a bilingual setting definitely expands how I think and how I apply my teaching ideas.
Read about working at Yew Chung, another school group promoting intercultural collaboration.
How do the students benefit from a bilingual school?
What I have enjoyed most is that each time we collaborate and work together, it leads to new learning that is culturally influenced, or we benefit from each other through sharing our ideas and thoughts. This process of exchange keeps us open-minded and respectful at all times. The children see this intercultural relationship and learn from us as role models, because they are in a similar situation, learning and working together in a bilingual environment. The families here are also very warm, educated and enthusiastic about their children’s learning. They are often involved in activities such as Parent Teacher Conferences, school parties, fundraising events and fun days that are organised by the school.
I am really happy to be here and both my husband and I are totally loving being in Shanghai! We are learning so much each day through working in international and bilingual schools. I am so grateful to Teacherhorizons for another great posting that continues to help me grow in my career as a teacher.
As we say it in China, Zai Jian! (Goodbye).