Teaching at TianYan Experiment Primary School has been
extraordinary. It has been a year filled with unique
challenges and tremendous rewards. With very little
previous teaching experience, I have had to learn on
my feet, and discover what worked and didn?．t work in
the classroom. The English teachers at my school were
also very helpful. I tried to create a classroom environment
with interactive activities that would provide the students
with as much exposure to the English language, as possible.
In an effort to expand their knowledge of certain words
mentioned in their textbook, for example ：C vegetables
and zoo ：C I brought in a colorful chart that showed
many of the vegetables and fruits grown in China, and
another chart of animals found in a zoo. I frequently
use art, singing, and games in the classroom, to enlist
enthusiasm for English.
I have four classes. Third grade students demand the
most structure and discipline, but their self-discipline
has improved. I expect the students to listen when we
practice pronunciations, though some days are more successful
than others. All of the students love to talk, but the
younger students have a shorter attention span, too.
In all of my classes, my style has generally been informal,
interactive, and inclusive. I have been happy with the
progress of all four classes, and hope they will have
the opportunity to have more foreign teachers in the
I have enjoyed getting to know my delightful students,
and have grown very fond of each one. Learning all of
the children?．s English names has been difficult, but
I have learned many of them. I visit with most of my
students on the playground, and in an outside English
Corner, a relaxed, informal period, held four times
a week, in the late afternoon. Though scheduled to last
twenty minutes, it commonly runs forty-five minutes.
Children from grades one through six come to visit and
talk, ask questions, read with me, recite, and sing
many English songs. I often bring visual aids such as,
photos of my family and my home in the United States,
colorful charts, textbooks, and children?．s books, to
trigger discussions. The groups vary from three to thirty
students, and children are free to come and go during
English Corner. I treasure my moments spend at English
Corner, because I am able to interact more with individual
students, and from all grade levels.
Communication was at times, frustrating. Last minute
changes were not unusual, and sometimes those updates
were not forwarded to me. I showed up for class several
times, only to discover that my class was on an excursion,
or cleaning duty. Overall though, the Chinese English
teachers did try hard to keep me informed.
Memories of my year at TianYang Experiment Primary School
will last a lifetime. The administrators, teachers,
and students have all been kind and helpful. I have
learned so much about teaching, and realize there is
so much more to learn. I will return to the United States
with many amazing photos and stories of my memorable
year in China. I especially want to thank Owen and Jennifer
Buckland and the Buckland Group for providing my placement
here. They have provided support and assistance throughout
the year, and have always listened to my concerns, and
helped whenever possible. They came to visit my school
and check out my apartment and my situation in the classrooms.
I was very fortunate to have selected Buckland Group
from the myriad placement organizations on the Internet!
July 3, 2004
Betsy A Headley