My name is Ryan McCall and I am a recent graduate from Scotland working at Suzhou Experimental Primary school as an English teacher for Grades One and Two. Graduating in the summer of 2018, and with a strong desire to gain first hand educational experience before furthering my studies in educational academia, I enrolled in the British Council Teach English in China programme.
Having only ever experienced a modern western style of education, I was intrigued to observe an eastern and uniquely Chinese learning environment and eager to bring my own western methods to the Chinese classroom.
After being accepted, I was placed in Suzhou in the Experimental Primary School and I have been in the city for several months. To date, my time in Suzhou has been immensely enjoyable as my teaching timetable has allowed me to travel and sightsee across the city and the surrounding area of lower Jiangsu including nearby Shanghai, Hanzhou and Nanjing.
I have found Suzhou to be a vibrant city with an active night life and historic old town and despite being so far from home, I have been happily surprised to find so many western comforts available in the SIP area in the east of the city.The many gardens, canals and cultural sites have been very enticing as I have had little experience with China and love exploring ancient historical sites. I have found getting around the city extremely easy as both the subway system and bus network tie many of the notable areas together and have allowed me to travel throughout this huge city with ease. Whether it has been window shopping through the small streets of the old city, bar hopping across SIP, viewing a play at the Cultural and Expo centre or travelling across the city to eat in-season crabs at Yangchen lake, I have so far found Suzhou to be a wonderful city to live and work in and am enjoying my time here immensely.
My time teaching at Suzhou Experimental Primary School has been an extremely engaging and thought-provoking experience as I have adapted to life in the city and school. After a few weeks of settling in, I have become much more confident in my ability to teach and, with the help of the other English teachers at the school, I am now heavily enjoying my experience. All the staff have been welcoming and friendly and have gone out of their way to aid me in settling into the school and its machinations. With a teacher on hand in every class to ensure a troublesome concept is more easily explained, and with all the teachers willing to offer advice or suggestions, my English classes have continually improved and my ability to teach and lead a lesson has grown immensely.I have seen vast improvements in the quality of the students’ English over the last several months and applaud the other teachers for having such a large impact in so short a time. Roselind from Grade One and my contact teacher Noraboth deserve special mention as they have been invaluable in helping me form and tweak my lessons and have been on hand to aid me whenever an issue arises, both inside and outside of class.
All told, I have found the school, Suzhou and China to be an enormously beneficial and engaging experience and am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and befriend so many interesting people. I look forward to seeing more of Suzhou and China in the future and to further honing my teaching skills at Suzhou Experimental Primary School.