Nineteen teachers from Shenyang, in Liaoning Province in North East China, attended a six-week teacher development course in November and December. As teachers of English in China, they gained a new perspective on teaching, and an understanding of the Scottish educational system, including the innovative techniques used by West College Scotland.
Since 2008, seven groups of Chinese teachers have participated in the course, while staying at West College Scotland Halls of Residence at Greenock Waterfront Campus. Run by lecturers Susan Fettes, Simon Logan, and Susanne McMahon, the course provides an excellent development opportunity, as Susanne explains.
“The course is an excellent opportunity for teachers to improve their English Language teaching skills, while exposing them to the diverse dialects of the West of Scotland."
"They gained a great understanding of the Scottish education system, including Curriculum for Excellence, and of Scottish culture. It’s the seventh year we’ve ran this course, and we’re confident of its success.”
The course focused on the factors underpinning the learning of English and helped teachers prepare for the Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT) Module 1 exam. The TKT is awarded by Cambridge English Language Assessment, part of the University of Cambridge. It is internationally recognised, highly respected, and a benchmark for quality.
Visitors took part in morning classes at the College, complemented by educational trips and local school visits. At the College’s Clydebank Campus teachers met current English Language students, discussing their experiences of learning at the College and in Scotland, and the cultural challenges they had faced.
At the College’s Greenock Waterfront Campus teachers met with Communication students and were exposed to Scottish culture and values. They were particularly impressed by the flexibility and lifelong access of further and higher education.
While on school visits around the region, teachers found the personalised approach to learning within Curriculum for Excellence a revelation, yet felt Scottish children were not challenged enough in their numeracy curriculum.
Teachers also had an opportunity to explore beyond the West of Scotland. The College’s International Office organised trips to Loch Lomond and the Highlands, and they also took time out to visit as far afield as Arran, Dunoon, York, Oxford, Cambridge, and London.
Susanne was pleased with how the course went.
“For many of the teachers this was their first trip overseas and certainly their first experience of Scottish culture. They especially enjoyed the St. Andrew’s Day Ceilidh organised at our Clydebank Campus, learning all the Scottish dances and sampling some delicious Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties.
“The teachers had a very open attitude and were very enthusiastic about new learning experiences. They still keep in touch, asking advice on how to implement new ideas and increase student motivation and participation in ESOL learning. The course was an undoubted success; indeed many said the experience was ‘life-changing’.”
Jim McAllister is Head of Hospitality, Tourism, and Languages, at West College Scotland, and was delighted with yet another successful international visit.
“It was great to see the great contribution and enthusiasm from both the Chinese teachers and WCS English lecturers on this programme."
"This was a major contributor to the programme’s success and has resulted in some very successful academic linkages, which will go on to benefit future programmes between the colleges and schools in both the UK and China.”