Arts, ESL

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Hello! I'm an ESL teacher from London who has worked in China for 6 years total. Now I'm back in the UK to obtain a new teaching qualification. While still in the UK I worked at the Tate Galleries in London and Liverpool. Whilst there I took part in group exhibitions in cafes, bars and gallery spaces. My own art is usually mixed media: painting with acrylics and inks, and collage elements. I've taught art techniques through the medium of English at one of my previous primary schools in Beijing, Donggaodi No. 1 Primary School, where I worked from 2018 to 2020. I also helped run educational activities for families and schools which were inspired by the exhibitions. While at Tate Liverpool I gave talks on individual art works, or on displays or temporary exhibitions. When I left the UK in 2015 I originally intended to stay in Shanghai for one year, but ended up staying in China until 2020! We all know what happened then... 

I'm a heritage speaker of French but I have to admit it is very rusty, though I am still "passively bilingual" in that I can watch films without subtitles and read novels. One of my motivations for continuing to live and work in China is the progress I have made in Mandarin. I have now reached intermediate level, which is helpful as I can understand students in the classroom and have a deeper insight into the local culture as I learn more. Although English immersion is usually encouraged, I do think being able to speak Chinese has helped with developing a bond with students. 

I have experience of online teaching, 2 years in Shanghai for EF (teaching adults) and a semester teaching my Grade 2 and Grade 5 students online in 2022 due to pandemic restrictions. I have my own private students, mostly Grade 5 or 6 primary school students. My last school was a private primary school in Beijing, Zhongguancun Foreign Language School, where I worked as an ESL teacher for a year. Before that I worked at a kindergarten (on my return to China after the first part of the pandemic) where we used the "learning through play" teaching method to teach English and art. In my first year in Beijing, I was working for Best Learning English, a pre-K to 12 training centre (a bit like a cram school). While there I taught Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science to the older students. For Pre-K and K level students I taught ESL through games and activities. This allowed me to gain insight into the American educational system as the teaching materials were based on the Common Core. 


I have a relaxed teaching style. When teaching kids I involve my students with games and activities. I engage with very young students (kindergarten age) through "learning through play," - using creativity (for example an art table at Jianhua Kindergarten where we make a collage or individual colourful letters of the alphabet) and allowing students to use their imagination freely. When it comes to teaching adults, the private lessons I give are usually tailored to the individual's needs. Usually I offer a free first lesson. This is to assess their level of English, and also to ask them about their interests. Some students just want free chat, as they have few chances to talk to native English speakers. For instance, they might have a meeting with someone from an overseas division of their company, and so feel nervous about having to suddenly speak English with them! I've also taught some business English, on topics such as negotiating and meetings. 


I have returned to England to pursue a PGCE qualification. I will be specialising in primary (elementary) education. Particular emphasis on Key Stage 1 (this corresponds to age 5-7, Years 1 and 2 in the UK system) Expected completion date: July 2025.

TEFL: I hold an online TEFL (150 hours) certificate) which is required for teaching in China (2014). I also hold a TKT (Teacher Knowledge Test) certificate (2016). This focuses on phonetics (IPA alphabet), grammar and sentence structure. 

Degrees: I have two masters: One from Liverpool John Moores University - an MRes in Art and Design History. My research subject was the German interwar artist John Heartfield. This allowed me to hone my research skills which continues to help me in lesson planning (2008). My other Masters (from Manchester University) relates to my job at the Tate galleries - Art Gallery and Museum Studies. This was a practical degree focusing on curating and education in art galleries and museums (2011). My BA is also from Manchester University (1997), and is in History of Art. 

Languages: Institute of Linguists, Finnish Grade 1 (1991). HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi - Chinese Proficiency Test) (2018) Level 4 (this is intermediate level). I am preparing to take Level 6, which is higher intermediate level. My language certificates are in Beijing and I am in London so will add them at a later date if needed. 


I adapt my teaching methods to the situation. For younger learners in particular, TPR, games and songs are important. For example at my last school, Zhongguancun Foreign Language School, I had an open class (observed class) with my Grade 2 students. We were learning about prepositions. There was a song "Put your BOOK on your head." As a whole group, students acted out the parts of the song and chanted out the lines. An observed class is a tense situation for both teacher and students. Even the most confident students are somewhat chastened by the severe row of teachers at the back of the class, taking notes. Having fun and allowing them to do a silly dance, whilst learning, allows them to loosen up. We then played the song, and called upon students to do individual actions, such as "Put your pencil BEHIND your ear," or "Put your book BETWEEN your pencil and your eraser." 

In the online class, TPR can still be used but needs to be adapted. I have taught different kinds of online class. In November 2022, pandemic restrictions prevented us from teaching face-to-face, I taught whole classes, and called on students individually. The students were at school and I was teaching at home. A short time after, the students were required to go home, so we used Tencent Meeting (Chinese Zoom) to teach our classes. This made it easier to allow students to work individually or in groups, or to sing songs as a whole class. 

Recommended texts:

1. Oxford Reading Tree: book series I use in my reading classes. 

2. Usborne "Law for Beginners": I am reading this book with my private student in Shanghai. This fun and thought-provoking book de-mystifies laws and regulations (good for an understanding of civics/social issues).

3. Roald Dahl books (good for lively reading classes).

4. Chika Miyata "How to Draw Almost Everything": Great for art classes 

5. DK (Dorling Kindersley publishers) "Children's Book of Art: An Introduction to the World's Most Amazing Paintings and Sculptures." 


Sample class description and some example PPTs for classes. 

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