On the 15th of January, a group of 17 New York University exchange students from NYU Abu Dhabi Campus visited one of the Stepping Stones partner migrant schools. The NYU students were visiting China on a one month exchange programme. During their trip, Stepping Stones arranged afternoon of enriching activities at a migrant primary school in Shanghai.
The project started with NYU students and Stepping Stones staff observing a Grade 3 English class led by one of the local teachers. The NYU students noted several teaching method differences between English learning in the migrant school and classes in their home countries. According to their observations, they felt that the discipline in the classroom was much stricter than what they experienced as grade school students. Furthermore, they noticed the children’s main focus was on the local Chinese teacher, who conducted the lesson primarily through lecture without much student participation.
After the class was over, Stepping Stones Senior Programme Manager, Sebastien Carrier, gave a presentation about the migrant situation in China. The focus of the talk was the relationship between the migrant situation and the urban/rural divide, and the work Stepping Stones is doing to promote the general welfare and education of these migrant children through its English teaching programs. The lecture left the NYU students eager to learn more about the migrant children in China.
With a newfound interest in migrant education, the NYU students jumped at the opportunity to engage in a round the table conversation with the migrant students. They met with a class of Grade 4 children and split into 6-7 small groups where they could initiate conversation with a variety of questions. Both groups of students (NYU and migrants) talked about their family life, interests, likes and dislikes. The majority of the discussion was done in English, providing the young migrant students an opportunity to practice their speaking and understanding skills. Translators circled around the classroom to assist with any language gaps or confusion.
For a fantastic end to a great day, all participants played English games together, including Pictionary and charades. The most amusing activity was the ‘’Guess Who’’ game, where students placed a post-it on their foreheads and had to ask yes/no questions to figure out what picture or word was on their post-it. These games created a shared positive learning experience for both the NYU and the migrant students. All came away from the interaction with smiles and a new understanding of each other’s culture!