Thanks to the generous help of the Go Abroad Fund, I was able to take part in an student-run organisation called MEET, or the Macau-Edinburgh Exchange Tour.
A large group of students from Edinburgh, and many from other countries including Portugal, Cambodia and India, travelled to Macau – a Chinese special administrative region on the south coast. Our purpose was to teach English to local students in Macau. The programme sets out to improve these students’ prospects of entering higher education by improving their English language skills, and, perhaps more importantly, by exposing them to students currently in full-time education; the idea is that through exposure and cultural exchange with foreign university students, the local high school students will themselves aspire to apply to universities and other higher education institutions worldwide.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from MEET. It was to be my first time teaching and the main thing I was apprehensive about was my ability to get through to the local students that couldn’t speak a word of English, as I can’t speak Cantonese either! I felt I didn’t want to let these students down because the MEET programme had the potential to benefit this category of students the most.
The teachers split into groups of twos or threes and decided on a topic to teach to their students. We taught a mixture of law and biology to students aged 14-18.
The thing I found most enjoyable about the experience was learning as much from our students as they were from us. They told us about their hobbies, showed us the best of Cantonese cuisine and it’s a pleasure to still remain in contact with some of them. I discovered that PUBG is the national game there, at breaktime nearly every kid was playing this arena survival game – like a hardcore fortnite.
It was also incredibly rewarding to plan a lesson, deliver it and visibly see the students’ interest in that topic perk up and steadily rise as they learnt and understood. However, the most rewarding thing was seeing the improvement in their English and confidence in speaking the language, over the 3 weeks of the programme. The students that couldn’t speak a word at the beginning could now make fully formed sentences in fairly complex topics. Overall the experience was brilliant, it was a nice surprise to find out that I am able to teach, but even better to see that MEET is making a real positive impact on the students’ English skills, and thus their prospects of going on to study at higher education institutions – especially abroad.