Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Learning to teach English in China

Lehigh students and Tim Cauller, associate director of ESL at Lehigh, enjoy the Shanghai skyline.

Just after the last day of spring classes, three Lehigh undergraduates flew to China for a different kind of classroom experience: teaching instead of learning.

The students are all rising seniors studying TESOL—Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. They spent five weeks in May and June at Lehigh’s partner school, East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST), in Shanghai, China, teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) while also immersing themselves in the Chinese language and culture.

“For the past few years I have been looking for a more meaningful way to give back,” says Sachee Nahata ’14, one of the students in the program. “When I heard that I could possibly go to Shanghai and teach English I was astounded. Not only did I get to ‘help’ other university students, but I also got a chance to do something that I never thought I would be able to do as an undergraduate student.”

The students were required to apply for the program as if applying for a full-time job, and they all took ENGL 310: Principles and Practices of Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language during the spring semester. Tim Cauller, associate director of ESL at Lehigh, led the Lehigh pre-service teacher delegation to ECUST.

The students later taught in an actual English classroom in collaboration with experienced Chinese EFL teachers, getting the chance to better understand the challenges and teaching approaches of the English classroom.

They also received extensive training and feedback from Cauller to improve their teaching skills. In addition to taking Chinese language classes, when the students weren’t teaching, they visited historical sites including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City.

“Monday through Thursday, I led two to four new English classes, meeting hundreds of new students each day,” explains Kylie Gray ’14. “I created lessons based upon what the teachers requested, which was most often related to American culture. Some favorite topics of the students were campus life, making friends, dating life and cultural differences.”

Gray joined the trip because she was curious about teaching English and wanted a chance to try it out. She plans to remain at Lehigh to get her master’s degree in English and then to get certified in TESOL.

“Throughout the class and definitely over the course of the trip, I slowly realized how dramatically my own culture and American cultural values shape the language I use and the way I communicate with everyone I meet,” says Jake Puzycki ’14, the third student in the program.

“That was really cool. Actually, that has probably been my favorite part of this trip. Living in Shanghai has helped me come a lot closer to figuring out what it actually means to be an ‘American.’”

Story by Emily Groff

Posted on Monday, July 08, 2013

share this story: