Over the past few years, I've had the privilege of teaching ESL abroad in two very different countries (Georgia and China). When I taught in Georgia--which is a small country located in Eastern Europe--something that really left an impression on me was the lack of educational resources. Classrooms only had student desks and a chalk board. Teachers even had to take the chalk away after every class in order to ensure they had some for the next.
My Georgian students from 2nd Form (Grade 3)
The students were generally a thrill to work with as many of them were clever and studious. However, since I was teaching oral English--probably their most difficult subject--many students were not very motivated to learn and preferred to cause trouble or simply ignore the lessons. However, students were thoroughly engaged and learning when there was strong attention to visuals and physical movement. For some lessons, I was even able to get the students to run it themselves so that I could become a participant. From my experience teaching in China, I really got to see and feel how technology can be used to teach effectively.
My Grade 7 students in China
The lessons were almost entirely teacher led yet children were often deeply engaged in the lessons aside from the few non-ethnically Georgian which I found rather odd but was too afraid to ask why. On the odd days when the teacher begins writing a lot of things on the board, the classes were quite mundane as copying the teacher's notes from the chalk board was very time consuming and some students just weren't able to write. Interestingly, the students adored their teachers which they all called "mas" and I even found myself overwhelmed at just how much they wanted to learn in school even though I didn't even feel like I had much to offer them.
My name is Shua and I am currently in my primary year studying for a Masters Degree in Educational Technology at the University of Saskatchewan.
Words just couldn't describe just how different it was when I moved on to teach in China. Maybe it was just my own experience, but the school where I worked at was huge. Desks completely filled up every classroom leaving hardly any space to walk around. The biggest shock of them all was just how advanced everything was--even when I compare it Canadian school standards. Virtually all classrooms had gaint touch screen smartboards, high speed internet, iPads for all students, extemely loud speakerphones that could be heard several kilometers away from the school, elevators, and so on.
It is in my greatest interest to study the impacts of technology on human learning. Coming from a fairly multicultural background myself, I've always been interested in how people of different cultures and backgrounds learn and how different kinds of technology affect the quality of their learning.