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IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Teaching Internships at AISG Pay Off for Chinese Graduate Students
By Simon Gauci 31-Aug-16
The American International School of Guangzhou (AISG) World Languages Department, under the leadership of Ms. Sarah Ting, has been sponsoring Chinese interns at AISG for six years. In 2007 she offered workshops to Sun Yat-Sun University (SYSU) graduate students but noticed they struggled to grasp western ideas about teaching. “They had no idea about the educational setting of an American school or a western style of teaching. It was difficult for them to comprehend the teaching philosophy or strategies that I shared during the workshops,” Ting stated. The interns are from the graduate program at the SYSU School of International Education in Guangzhou. As volunteers, they receive graduate credit hours toward a master’s degree in Education. Every November, graduate students visit AISG and compete for seven full-time, three-month teaching internships. Over the course of one day, they observe various classes, meet and talk to AISG faculty and students, then participate in a lunch and mingle session during which they are causally and formally evaluated for suitable internship potential. “Starting in 2012, we added an English Interview Process to assess their English Proficiency as a selection tool,” explained Ting. Once selected, the seven interns become part of AISG’s teaching faculty from mid-January to the end of April. Generally, five interns work in the high school/middle school division at the Science Park campus and four work at the elementary campus located on Ersha Island in Guangzhou. One outstanding intern this year is Zoe (Shouyi) Li, a Master’s student at SYSU. With an undergraduate degree in English translation and minor in German, she lived in Germany for one year studying German and English and arrived at AISG well prepared for an internship in the classroom. Before coming to AISG, Zoe had attended a presentation about the internship program at SYSU and as the interview process was described to candidates she felt apprehension about the challenges and possible hardships of an internship. After a week as an intern she reflected on what she had learned, but still felt quite nervous. Following the spring break she asked for a lot of advice from veteran teachers, reporting that “over time I began to feel more at ease.” At age 23, Zoe clearly possesses a determined mindset when it comes to success. Her inspiration comes from her passion to be an educator and the internship has helped her to meet that goal. Hailing from Yunnan Province, Zoe came to SYSU Guangzhou campus in March 2015. Zoe said that “helping to gain a real teaching experience and to apply teaching theories and classroom management as well as technology was emphasized, and provides me with a real teaching ability.” She is currently in her seventh week as an intern in the high school and middle school divisions. Other students who try out for the internships often lack her fluency skills. Clearly, Zoe was an excellent intern choice. Among the advantages of the AISG program, according to her, is the development of a sense of belonging. “We are part of the teaching team,” said Zoe. Ms. Ting told Zoe that she does a good job organizing the classes. This comment came after many perceived “failures” as she tried to motivate students and make lessons interesting, challenges most teachers can appreciate. This reflects the value of an internship for a pre-service teacher and will help build her instructional skills set for her career as a teacher. There is good news. In August 2016, Zoe will head off to Miami, Florida to teach Chinese at a private school on a two-year contract. It seems the internship held her in good stead. She feels respected by Ms. Ting. The experience struck her as profoundly different from other internships, where “free labor is common and securing a teaching position is highly competitive,” Zoe said. The first AISG Chinese Intern, Lloyd Lu, is currently teaching in Toronto, Canada and is waiting for his citizenship. On behalf of the teaching faculty at AISG, we wish Zoe Li and all the interns the best in their careers. Simon Gauci is currently a teacher at AISG and will soon become Director of Boarding at TIS-Macau.
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