Stepping Stones’ Videolink Program recruits, trains and supports volunteers to teach English through the Internet to left-behind children in rural China, providing an efficient and sustainable way of reaching more disadvantaged children in remote areas. Class sizes vary depending on the program, but are generally small (around 10-15 students). Please see below two videolink demo classes, and click here to read a testimonial from a volunteer.
1. Videolink Demo Class (Fengxian, Shanghai)
2. Videolink Demo Class (Guangde, Anhui)
Why this project?
The biggest educational gap between rural and urban children in China is English education, due to an overall lack of qualified English teachers, which particularly affects rural schools. Supporting the English education of rural children is an important need, because English is one of the three core subjects in the Chinese curriculum and one of the areas on which they are tested and compared throughout their school and work life. It is an important need also because rural families do not have the resources to access additional support for their child’s English education.
Since the volunteering community is concentrated in the urban areas, traditional classroom teaching is only possible in the large cities and during short trips to rural schools. While the education for migrant children has improved in the major cities, English education for the majority of rural children who remain in rural schools is still very poor.
This project uses technology to help us to scale up our current work in Shanghai and Zhejiang province to allow us to reach more disadvantaged children in more remote rural areas. The objective is to help these students gain confidence in English and pass their key examinations, to optimize their access to higher education (i.e., high school and university) and work opportunities in the future.
- Time commitment: Minimal 40 minutes per week for at least one term (3-4 months). Teaching schedule is flexible based on volunteers and students availability. Volunteers living overseas can also sign up!
- Good level of English with Chinese language skills a plus.
- Interest in communicating the English language to new learners.
- Technically competent.
- Age limit: Minimum age is 16.
- All volunteers must attend the Videolink training session organised by Stepping Stones.
For more information and questions regarding this exciting program, please email us at email@example.com.
“When I was approached to be part of this new, innovative scheme to provide children in more remote parts of China with English lessons taught by native speakers, I didn’t hesitate. I had loved teaching with Stepping Stones when I lived in China and now my week would provide me with forty minutes where I felt like I was back there.
I knew teaching via videolink would be challenging at times but any problems that arose were not insurmountable. The biggest challenges were the variable Internet speed and not being physically present in the classroom to move amongst the students. The Internet speed varied from week to week. Some weeks there were no problems, whilst at other times there was a sound delay, which meant I needed to adapt my teaching to allow for this. Like all classrooms where I have taught in China, the students were eager to learn and well behaved. They sat in the same seat each week, so by having a seating plan on the wall above my computer, I was able to get the attention of any students I felt were becoming distracted.
Each week, Ross at Stepping Stones provided me with a PowerPoint lesson. This formed the basis of my lesson. I found the student’s attention was highest when I was on full screen, so I added real objects to illustrate teaching points and used a small white board for incidental teaching or to play games. My lessons were revision of work already taught by the school’s English teacher. I found the students knew the content well but needed practice with pronunciation. This improved greatly over time along with the student’s confidence in participating and interacting with me.
I have enjoyed this experience very much. It can be challenging, and you need to be adaptable, as you don’t have the same control over all the variables as you do in the classroom. It has been wonderful seeing the beaming smiles of the students as they arrive and leave our virtual classroom.” – Nola Clark, videolink volunteer, Fengxian, Shanghai.