"Teaching in China, I gained much more than an experiential edge. To start off, I gained a lot of independence and grew more self-confident as I travelled to a different country. I learned how to communicate in ways I never had before. Being in China was a bit like being on another planet! I have to admit there was quite a bit of culture shock, but it was an amazing feeling to learn and absorb everything you could about another culture. There was so much to see and try.
I also gained more experience and information about teaching ESL students. Although I had taken a class on it during my professional year, getting first-hand experience really put things into perspective and challenged my teaching abilities in enlightening ways. I was able to practice strategies and expand on my knowledge with ESL teaching.
The school in Wuhan was absolutely amazing. Every single person that works there was extremely willing to help. They made me feel as if I was a part of their family. Not to mention I had two of the very best associate teachers possible! They willing shared their strategies and also helped build on my classroom management skills and ESL strategies. And, the students at the school were all so eager to learn and dedicated to their work in a way that is different than students in Canada.
Needless to say I would recommend this experience highly! I am a small town, homebody type of person who randomly decided to step out of my comfort zone, and because of this I gained experience and knowledge that I could have never gained here in Canada."
Kayla Lindsay completed an international placement teaching Grade 10 Planning and Grade 11 Social Studies classes at Maple Leaf International School-Wuhan in May 2016.
"I am so grateful to have completed a placement in China as part of my BEd degree. It was an amazing experience I would recommend to anyone! Even if China is not at the top of your “places to go” list (or even on it at all), teaching is a profession that requires adaptability and adventure, both of which you will experience during this placement.
Upon arriving at the school for our placements, we were greeted by kind and welcoming Maple Leaf staff, despite it being almost midnight on a Saturday night. My impressions of the staff only got better as I met the teachers in my departments. Many were involved in many groups, clubs, and events after hours, such as the Teacher Charity Show (an event that students anticipated all year). My associate teachers were excellent mentors who provided me with great materials, support, and feedback to better assist ELL students. After finishing this placement, I obtained an LTO position in a school in Ontario, where I have already used many strategies that I gained during the China placement.
Outside of school hours, there is no shortage of things to do in China! I had the opportunity to travel a bit around China and experience amazing things, like sleeping in a yurt in Inner Mongolia, climbing the steps of the Great Wall of China, boating in the waters of North Korea, watching an acrobatics show in Shanghai, hiking through the National Parks and walking on a suspended glass pathway in Zhangjiajie, and looking in awe at the thousands of Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, to name a few.
I would strongly recommend applying for an international placement to any teacher candidate, as it teaches you how to adapt in a foreign place, while learning about another culture. I hope you consider China, as it has been an incredible, memorable, and valuable experience for me."
Lauren Baryluk completed an international placement teaching Grade 10 Socials (History) and Grade 12 Communications (English) on the Girls' campus at Maple Leaf International School-Dalian in March/April 2017.
“If you have a love of travel, adventure, new experiences, and a passion for teaching, then this is the opportunity you have been waiting for! My experience teaching at the Maple Leaf Foreign Nationals School (MLFNS) in Dalian, China, was an incredible experience, and one that I would recommend to anyone who is feeling adventurous.
The teachers at MLFNS were so welcoming and really made me feel at home right from the beginning of my placement. It was an incredible experience to travel so far, but to feel so welcomed, comfortable, and at home in such a short amount of time.
Working in a classroom with ELL students helped me to develop strategies of communication that I hadn’t used before: a great skill in any classroom! The students were patient and kind as I attempted to restructure lessons (sometimes in the middle of teaching them) to better suit their learning needs. I feel more confident in the classroom now after having to meet these challenges, and believe that I am a better teacher for it.
While the teachers, school, and students were all such a positive and rewarding part of this experience, having the opportunity to travel through China and experience the culture was also life-changing. While in China I had the chance to travel from North to South, going from Inner Mongolia all the way to Hong Kong, and East to (almost) West going from Dandong to Zhangjiajie. I have been to many countries, but China was by far the most fascinating one I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
I am so grateful I had the opportunity to take part in this experience, and would do it all again in a heartbeat. There are so many teachers there that went for a one-year contract, fell in love with the job, and decided to stay on for many more years. The community of teachers and administrators in Dalian are all so helpful and eager to make your transition into China living easy, fun, and entertaining!”
Aislinn Harrison completed an international placement teaching a Grade 2 class at Maple Leaf Foreign Nationals School-Dalian in March/April 2017.
"I had a plan, but things change…
So here’s the plan: complete my final placement, go to China for an amazing adventure, come back for my Masters, and possibly start my teaching career in China when I am finished my education. This was a solid plan and I had everything in order for the following year. I thought I had it all figured out, but after a crazy few weeks that flew right by, I decided it was okay for my plans to change.
Teaching in China was an amazing experience. I’ve always wanted to teach internationally and I thought that this placement would be a great test trial to the real thing. This was 100% true! It’s hard to fully prepare for teaching internationally until you’ve experience it yourself. Keeping an open mind and being flexible to change will maximize your experience.
During my placement I tried to be as involved in the school community as I could. I assisted my associate teacher’s in a volleyball and soccer practice, and attended the International Student Prom and Dance Showcase. Outside of school I attended evening dinners and gathering with other teachers, which made me feel like part of the community.
The connection I made with the students and staff at Maple Leaf made me decide to change my plans and go back to teach for the following year. The best advice I could give any student thinking of doing a placement overseas is to keep an open mind and embrace the experience!"
Ashley English completed an international placement teaching Physical Education courses on the Girls' campus at Maple Leaf International School-Dalian in May 2016. Following her placement experience, she signed a contract to teach at the school, starting in the summer of 2016.
“Teaching abroad is something I always dreamed about doing. For years, my post-university plan was to teach English classes somewhere in Europe. I never imagined myself teaching in Asia, but now I am so thankful that Lakehead’s Faculty of Education and Maple Leaf schools gave me an opportunity to do so!
Before I went to China, teaching abroad seemed scary. When I was considering teaching in other countries there were so many factors to consider, like: Where would I go? What would happen if I couldn’t speak the language? How would I set up my bank account? And so on. I can honestly say that it is thanks to the international placement opportunity that I gained the confidence and reassurance that teaching abroad really is doable, and finding the right school is possible.
Teaching at Maple Leaf International School-Dalian allowed me to experience first-hand the benefits and challenges of teaching internationally. I was able to meet so many teachers there, some who had just recently moved to China and others who were seasoned travellers with 5+ countries under their belt. Their stories and experiences were great to hear and helped me decide that China was the right choice for me.
I am extremely happy with my decision to return to the Maple Leaf campus where I completed my placement to begin my career as a teacher. I was able to return to China with much more confidence and preparation than I ever would have had. If you are considering teaching abroad, I cannot stress how strongly I recommend that you apply for this opportunity. At one time I thought that China wasn’t for me… and now in my passport I hold a work visa that allows me to call China my current home!”
Alyssa Jodoin completed an international placement teaching Grade 11 and Grade 12 English classes at Maple Leaf International School-Dalian in May 2015. Following her placement experience, she signed a two-year contract to teach at the school.
"I had never thought about teaching abroad, but am very glad I gave it a try! Maple Leaf has an extremely welcoming atmosphere with lots of extracurricular activities to get involved in. During my time there I played basketball, soccer, and volleyball on the teacher teams. Many of the teachers are in their first few years of teaching and provide each other with a lot of support, from helping out with lesson planning to activities outside of school.
The Chinese culture was an amazing, and sometimes challenging experience. Not knowing the language made it difficult to communicate with the locals. However, everyone was friendly and tried their best to help wherever they could. Ordering food was the most challenging language barrier I encountered. Not being a fan of spicy food I learned to ask if a dish was spicy, but somehow managed to receive more spicy meals than fewer ones!
From the experience I know that international teaching is something that I would be willing to do. You get to experience so much in China and your options seem limitless. I learned to use my time at school wisely and do school my work at school, leaving me more time outside of school hours to explore the local area, travel to other cities like Dandong, and even relax. I would recommend this placement opportunity highly!"
Cody McGriskin completed an international placement teaching Physical Education and Social Studies courses on the Boys' campus at Maple Leaf International School-Dalian in May 2016.
"I actually found my way into the information session about teaching placements in China by accident, and I am very thankful I was there! When people tell you something is going to be “an experience of a lifetime” it doesn’t always have much of an effect because it’s a saying that has been used often. But going to China and completing a teaching placement there was, honestly, an experience of a lifetime. The food was delicious and the scenery was breathtaking. Actually seeing the Terra Cotta Warriors and being on the Great Wall of China was a surreal experience.
Teaching at Dalian Maple Leaf Foreign Nationals School was completely different than what I could have experienced during a placement in Canada. The students at the international school came from all around the world: in my class alone I had students from Hong Kong, Italy, South Korea, Japan, France, Mexico, Germany, Russia, and Brazil! They each brought their own knowledge and culture in the classroom, and shared it with their peers.
International teaching allows you to encounter many different learners with different cultural expectations, which adds another dimension to how you mold yourself as a teacher. Despite these differences, I realized the students were all eager to learn something. I also learned how to be flexible with my teaching and how to better communicate with ELL students. These are skills I take with me to all my teaching opportunities.
This teaching experience taught me how strong and independent I can be. Going half-way around the globe to a country I was unfamiliar with, with newly found friends was intimidating at first. I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone! I would recommend this experience of other Faculty of Education students because it truly is AN EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME."
Robyne Rodriguez completed an international placement teaching a Grade 3 class at Maple Leaf Foreign Nationals School-Dalian in May 2016.
“During my placement at Maple Leaf International School-Wuhan, I learned that I really enjoy teaching in an international school. This placement was an opportunity to be mentored by a teacher who knew what she was doing in regards to teaching internationally. I learned exactly what to expect before I started teaching at the school full-time myself.
My participation in the placement led to me receiving a teaching position in the same school, starting the following semester. Not a lot of teachers can say that they graduated from teacher’s college and immediately landed a job! The international placement also helped me in my decision because I had the opportunity to meet the staff and principal, see how the school is run, and teach there myself before accepting the position. This gave me the experience I needed to feel confident teaching - and living - in China.
The highlight of teaching at Maple Leaf is the students, who are respectful, attentive, and truly caring. There is an innate respect for teachers built into the Chinese culture: I was pleasantly surprised when all of the students tried their best on every single piece of work I gave them! Forming a bond with students is very important to me as a teacher, and I had no trouble at all doing that at Maple Leaf.
The highlight of travelling in China was seeing the Great Wall of China. I have never seen something so awesome in my life (and I mean to use awesome in its proper context - which means to inspire awe). I would recommend this experience to other Faculty of Education students who are interested in teaching abroad. I’m sure that any Faculty of Education student who is given this opportunity will also love their experience, like me.”
Jeff Duncan completed an international placement teaching Grade 10 English classes at Maple Leaf International School-Wuhan in May 2015. He signed a three-year contract to teach at the school, starting September 2015.
Anna Lisa Martin
“I was fortunate to be placed in a Grade 2 classroom at Maple Leaf Foreign Nationals School - Dalian. Initially, the experience was daunting: I knew that I didn’t know what to expect. Teaching in China turned out to be just that - unexpected and adventure-filled. As I commuted each morning to the school, I was intrigued by the people around me and their way of life. When I arrived at school, the students were bright and eager to learn, and they had so much to teach me about their own cultures. Their work ethic was inspiring and so was each of their lives. When I taught an art lesson to the students in my class, their talent and passion blew me away. The results were beautiful!
The school communities at Maple Leaf are fantastic. With many of the teachers being Canadian, they are happy to lend a hand or a hint here and there, and as a result, the teamwork is incredible. Sharing experiences, ideas, and resources is common, and it is evident that a constructivist mentality is at the base.
Living in China really pushed me further in terms of my philosophy and attitudes towards everyday life. Each difficulty or “con” that I came across, like a traffic jam, I was forced to turn into an experience. Turning the “cons” into “pros” is crucial while travelling, and I believe this enabled me to strive to be both a better person and a better teacher. With an open mind and accepting attitude, new faces turned into friends, new tastes turned into cravings, and a new culture fostered a deepened understanding of a society. I would recommend this to any future teacher who is willing to take on an invaluable adventure. There is a world to learn about, and China is a great start!
This experience really eased my transition into the international teaching environment and the Chinese culture. After learning so much through this experience, I was ready to come back and explore some more.”
Anna Lisa Martin completed an international placement teaching a Grade 2 class at Maple Leaf Foreign Nationals School-Dalian in May 2015. Following her placement experience, she signed a two-year contract to teach at the school, starting September 2015.
“To be given the opportunity to represent Lakehead internationally while gaining valuable teaching experience was something I was not going to pass up. For those of you contemplating whether to apply for this trip, DO IT! Teaching in a country with a completely different culture really forces you to look at your lesson plans and decided what is truly important. You realize how much of teaching is based around cultural norms and by being able to understand this, you can strengthen your lessons. My participation in this program has really helped my teaching career.
Teaching in China was amazing. The students are extremely polite and you may even experience a student thanking you for a lesson. Teaching a Canadian-based curriculum to students immerses them in new ideas and ways of thinking and it is a treat to watch them grasp these concepts and apply them. Above all else, I came to understand that students are the same the world over. They want to be engaged and challenged in their lessons.
China as a country always had a mystical feel for me. It seemed to be less of a country and more of a myth, a place that existed but where I would never go. Now it is real and after my experience, I was eager to go back. The people are extremely polite and very patient with those from away. This is a good thing, as there are some cultural norms that take a while to get used to. The food is amazing. Whether it is sitting down for a shared meal with friends or grabbing a couple of dumplings from a street vendor, there is so much flavour to everything here. I certainly found myself justifying a second lunch on many occasions.
This teaching opportunity has everything you want. You can further your educational career, meet new people, and grow as a person. If you want to challenge yourself, have a unique experience, and see a different side of the world, this opportunity is for you.”
David Berg completed an international placement teaching Grade 11 Social Studies and Grade 12 Comparative Civilizations classes at Maple Leaf International School-Dalian in May 2015. David returned to China as a full-time teacher, effective September 2015.