For the past four weeks, instructors from China have been developing new teaching skills at Brock University that they hope to apply in classrooms back home.
Run by Brock’s Continuing Teacher Education program, the professional development initiative welcomed 11 English as a subsequent language (ESL) educators from Minjiang University in Fujian, China, to study at Brock over the course of a month.
As English is not the first language of the ESL instructors, they sometimes experience unique challenges in the classroom that the Brock program hopes to help address.
During their stay at Brock, the instructors have explored a range of topics including instructional strategies, differentiated instruction, classroom management, future-ready skills, learning strategies, education in Ontario, Indigenous culture and supporting English language learners.
“We had many classes, lectures and workshops in the past month. The instructors and their teaching skills have left a deep impression on me,” said participant Wang Hui. “We also enjoyed the beautiful scenery, tasted delicious food and experienced Canadian culture. I most enjoy the friendliness and kindness of people here.”
Outside the classroom, the group explored the Niagara region and other areas of the province.
The itinerary included visits to wineries and a maple syrup producer, a trip on the Hornblower in Niagara Falls and tours of Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Kingston. The group also toured the University of Toronto and Queen’s University to get a broader understanding of post-secondary education in Ontario.
“The program provides opportunities for personal growth as well as events and excursions that promote personal and professional friendships that will last a lifetime,” said Tony DiPetta, Director of the Continuing Teacher Education program.
The initiative’s areas of focus are meant to teach lessons at Brock that will benefit the instructors and their students long after they return to China.
“I enjoyed every minute I stayed here,” said participant Wu Huiying before the group’s last day on Friday, Aug. 16. “I will try to adapt those creative activities I have learned at Brock into my teaching when I’m back home.”
When Chen Danxia returns to China, she plans to “apply the teaching philosophy, the ‘inclusive learning experiences’ and those fascinating activities I have learned in Brock in my class.”
“I do hope that students will be motivated and every one of them will be a better person,” she said.
This is the second time the Brock program has been run in the Faculty of Education, with a pilot session occurring in 2018.
In June 2019, Michael Owen, Dean of the Faculty of Education, Mary-Louise Vanderlee, Chair of the Department of Educational Studies, and Elizabeth Ye, International Program Co-ordinator in the Faculty of Education, travelled to Minjiang University. During their visit, they were able to see how the pilot group has successfully applied what they learned at Brock to their teaching.
For the organizers, hosting these international educators is a chance to build global partnerships and to contribute to the quality of education in other communities.
“Brock is lucky to have the opportunity to welcome these students to our campus where everyone involved – our visitors and those of us from Brock — learn together and gain a deeper intercultural understanding,” said Michael O’Sullivan, Associate Dean of Graduate Student Services, Research and International in the Faculty of Education.