In May 2022, a group of interns from the National Institute of Education, majoring in “Teaching Chinese as an International language”, joined the DAS Chinese team for a period of 10 weeks. They have taken the time to evaluate their insights and job scope, and would like to highlight their achievements and learning points. Let’s hear from their point of view as they describe their internship experience.
Learners with dyslexia
We have opportunities to go into primary and secondary classroom to observe lessons. Our supervisors also gave us an overview of the Orton-Gillingham teaching principles which are used for learners with dyslexia. We observed that learners with dyslexia tend to confuse characters that are visually similar or sound similar, it may be difficult for them to identify the spatial configuration between character components. We also observed that they may be able to read individual character but not when it is in a passage.
We observed that the teachers are patient and encouraging, students can follow well in class with their guidance even though reading and writing components can be quite difficult for them. We also observed that long-term retention is challenging and students need constant revision. We are quite inspired by the card drill and spelling the teacher conduct in class every week to help students to retain what has been taught. We thought this is necessary and the scaffoldings will help students to learn better.
In the DAS Chinese programme, there are both primary and secondary curriculum. We learnt that curriculum are designed to provide step by step guidance to the students. For the primary curriculum, there are more games and activities to increase student’s interests, also focusing on daily topics and conversation. For the secondary curriculum, there are more reading and writing skills focused on building up student’s language ability. We were also guided to produce some differentiated teaching materials to cater to students of varying needs in terms of content, process and product.
The Chinese profiling is one of the most significant parts during our internship. Our Chinese profiling aims to help teachers know which level the student is in and what kind of class will be more suitable for the student.
Some students with dyslexia may also have ADHD or other specific learning difficulties, so they may not be able to focus fully. Also, since we are doing the online profiling, students can be very easily distracted, especially during the spelling part, which means we need to keep guiding them and communicating with them patiently to make sure our profiling goes smoothly.
We learnt to be patient and encouraging throughout and be adaptable to changes. Some students may be resistant to do the profiling test and as their language abilities are indeed limited. Hence, we have to be mindful to guide students when needed. Also, using Chinese to conduct the test all the time can be very challenging for some of the students, therefore we incorporated some English to help them understand every step and the required tasks.
Reflection on professional pathway
This internship have raise my awareness of dyslexia and the professional traits to become a Chinese teacher. To be a great Chinese teacher, we not only should take hold of professional knowledge, but also, we should understand how to get along with students. After reflecting on lesson observation, we noticed that an inclusive classroom promotes a healthier, safer learning environment for all students. The lessons in DAS have helped students found a way to recognize Chinese characters and the strategies have made it easier for them to remember Chinese phrases. For example, by the guidance of Orton Gillingham principles, teachers broke down reading into smaller steps, which are manageable for students. Besides, we also found that giving dyslexic students time to process information at their own pace is crucial of building their confidence. Above all, by allowing students to gradually build upon the skills they learn, DAS teachers promote confidence professionally in students’ abilities to learn more.
We wish to explore Chinese education as our future career and this internship is definitely very insightful for us as we have learnt a lot from their professional way of managing students and the different aspects of the programme such as curriculum and profiling. We really appreciate that all our supervisors at DAS who are willing to give us guidance and useful suggestions.
Reflections written by: Ma Yuecong, Xu Suhang, Tang Haitao