Thursday, July 19, 2007

Strength of Character: The foreign Student Teacher.

Mood: Annoyed.


It's been a while since I updated. Nonetheless here is a short entry which I feel has to be written. I just returned from a social Christian gathering at uni later, where I was introduced to a new international student who has just enrolled in from an institution I was previously enrolled in. I shall address her as Newbie for the sake of this entry.

Now Newbie was telling me that she would be enrolled for 3 years in Australia (which actually entitles her to apply for PR in Australia), as this qualification enables her to work in the centre as a Childcare Adminstrator. Anyways, to get to the point.

Newbie wanted to ask me questions in relation to the professional experiences here. As one who was trying to be helpful, I needed to know some background information about her before I can give her the tailored information I need to give here.

When I proceeded to tell her that for the first professional experience she would be undertaking requires a lot of hands on "cleaning" and sanitising, I was given the answer hence where she was required to clean prior Montessori equipment and she was used to that. I was guess what I was trying to say is that, in Malaysia, there is the cleaner to do that and they are supposed to clean up but in Australia, the Group Leader or the Assistant has to do those jobs. Change nappies. Do all those roles.


Of course, the next thing I was annoyed with her was that she spoke in her own vernacular dialect with me, which is Mandarin. It's not that I do not think that students should not speak their own vernacular tongue, but the way I see it going, Newbie had better start speaking in English. The first obstacle she will have to go through once she starts her pract is that she has to speak in English to the children. I am not trying to present a very negative picture here, but I am just being very realistic.

Unless a student teacher has a very workable grasp of the English language, it will make things even more difficult if she has trouble listening to the children's accents and usage of slangs. Even for me (whose command of English is considered commendable) had difficulties understanding the slangs that the children used when out on practical experiences. Having a workable command of English helps the adult to "guess" what the child has to say, especially if they are prone to using slangs in the classroom, which I have been made very aware of since I started my practs last year!

I can only imagine a student who has a poor grasp of grammar and the English language trying to complete her Professional Experience 5 in a primary school. The mentor will have very scalding remarks and on top of that, the student has to work doubly hard just to buck up on her English language pronunciation to just prepare the literacy lesson plans (I am not kidding!! I've been through that and it was tough!).

Student teachers are expected to "model" the language spoken in primary schools (in class that is. :-p). Due to that reason, it is important that they do not speak the typical way (like how Malaysians are used to especially when out socially), as they are expected to "model and teach the usage of the English language" to the children.

Of course, finally I would like to say is that you cant assess the children which will be brought up here (which there was a 2 year old Chinese kid in the gathering earlier) in what you will assess them against of what you had used to know in a Malaysian setting. This is as the kid will grow up, and develop an Australian accent, and be assessed against criteria set out by the Australian Education system (with some differentiation maybe in some individual areas in relation to physical or social traits). Heh.


As I have said before, unless you have previously worked in an international educational setting, you will have to prepare yourself to be mentally prepared to experience culture shock. Which I believe she is, although her face shows disbelief to what I had to say. Well, if she doesn't want to believe, only facing it first hand will knock her off her high pedestal.

I know that it is very common for new students to compare the way they have lived in another country, to the "new country" in which they will be spending the next 3 years of their life. Unfortunately in my experience, it is common to do that. Disbelief, I shall state. Oh well. That's life.

On the other hand, one of my mentor friends wanted to introduce me to an American girl who is an exchange student in Education. I was trying to disassuade him, because I thought myself of no use to an American exchange student as frankly speaking, there is less of a difference in say Americans vs Australians, compared to that of Australians vs Malaysian culture.

Americans and Australians adopt an almost similar (but maybe manifesting some differences) in terms of culture. But apart from that, development of independence, individualism and freedom of speech, I feel is almost practised in both nations. However, since I do not know the American girl's temperament, I guess I should not make any judgements yet.

I am just thoroughly very much annoyed with the Newbie Malaysian girl. She will get off her high horse in time.


SilverFox thinks that by my writing of this entry, I am trying to sell out my Malaysian mates, or that I am cynical, which I am. However, what I am trying to point out is that there is a lot of politics and parties involved, ESPECIALLY in the Education Faculty, at least for where we are based now. She just has to toughen up and fight her way through the system. Well, I did at least.

It is the survival of the fittest in the jungle out there that will make it through in the end.

Related links:
-Exploring Culture Shock Moments: Canada program for Immigrant Pre-Service Teachers.
-Cross Cultural & MultiCultural Issues in Advising: Mount Holyoke

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