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International Experience: Changsha, Hunan, China

March 23, 2016

A blog post from SOLES Ambassador and MEd in TESOL, Literacy and Culture, Tina-Marie Freeman:

SOLES offers a plethora of options to complete the mandatory international credit. I have classmates who have gone to Tijuana, attended on-campus talks, and taken a course in Japan. Yet despite the many opportunities available, I had my heart set on a summer internship in Hunan Province, China. Through the efforts of my advisor and the SOLES faculty, I was able to make this opportunity a reality.

As a student in the M.Ed. in TESOL, Literacy, and Culture program, I was interested in applying the skills and theories that I had been learning. San Diego offers incredible opportunities for ESOL, but I hoped to explore the opportunities abroad and better understand how the teaching strategies I had acquired applied to English as a Foreign Language. Thus, I spent three months working for a start-up English training school located in southeastern China. The company was comprised of people from the U.S., Canada, China, and Zimbabwe.tesol_teach_in_china_01_body

As a small business exploring multiple ventures, its employees took on a variety of roles, often switching projects at a moment’s notice to accommodate a new priority. I was initially hired to work on designing assessments for students and finding ways to track student progress. While I continued to work on this project throughout the three months, I was also teaching EFL classes to children, teenagers, and adults. I designed a loose curriculum and several lessons for an adult Business English class, which we taught each week at a large Chinese company. When a niche market for prepping elementary and middle school kids for English speech competitions was discovered, I was summoned to create lessons and assessments. I was able to teach, reflect upon, and revise these lessons as the program continued.

The company demanded diligence and enthusiasm from its employees, but I was able to practice the many skills and theories that I had learned during my first year in the M.Ed. program. I learned much about the education system in China, and enough to know that my experience in one city, in one part of the country, does not reflect the attitudes and practices of the entire country. Upon returning to USD for the fall semester, I was able to use my experiences in my coursework, specifically for the class English as an International Language. My experience teaching a business English course in China as well as the information gleaned from this course allowed me to begin creating my own curriculum and textbook for adult ESOL students who are hoping to use English in the global business market.

The TESOL program at the University of San Diego prepares its graduates for the many contexts in which they will be teaching by emphasizing the importance of students’ culture, educational history, and ideology toward education and student-teacher relationships and roles. My international experience gave me the chance to test the theories I was learning as well as provide opportunities that are, and will continue, to shape my future career in ESOL.

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