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Born to Teach

October, 2005
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Filipa Filipa had traveled throughout North America and Europe, but everything she knew about China and Asia came from books.

  “When my husband and I were offered this job, we jumped at the opportunity.”

  Her actual experiences changed a lot of her preconceptions about Beijing and China.

  “I was shocked at the amount of pollution in the first few days, but I was surprised with the wonderful food,” says Filipa.

  She is now living in Capital Paradise, in the Shunyi area north of Beijing. Except for difficulties getting home after work by taxi, everything has been fine.

  Before coming here, Filipa was curious about China, particularly its people and culture.

  “When you get to know the people, and the way people interact with each other, of course you get to know the country better.”

  She plans to explore Beijing over the October break. Next summer, she will probably start a tour across the country.

  “We realized that as teachers we have this opportunity to travel, experience different cultures in a new way, and get a taste of the country.”

  By teaching and traveling, Filipa worked in Portugal during her teacher training, in England, then in Turkey. This is the 5th year of her teaching career.

  At BISS, she teaches upper school ESL (English as a Second Language), to students between 13 and 14 years old.

  “In Turkey, the students expect to memorize things. The teachers usually teach, while the students listen and memorize. However, the IB PYP/ MYP encourages more critical thinking,” says Filipa.

  “I think I will make some changes, not only to the way I deliver the lessons, but also the way I plan my units, topic and questions.”

  She also thinks she will introduce drama and performing arts into her classes, because it suits her personal tastes.

  “Most of my students here are from Korea. They are lovely and very respectful to the teachers, but they are also a bit shy in class. Drama and performance may help change that.”

  She likes challenging students.

  “They make me stop and think how I can help them. If the student isn’t very good, I try to get on his or her good side to make sure they succeed. This is rewarding for a teacher.”

  She prefers the professional relationship between teachers and students to be one of mutual respect.

  “I want them to feel comfortable in my class, so that they will not be afraid to speak, for example.”

  As an ESL teacher, Filipa also speaks quite a few languages, including English, German, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Italian. She also believes her international background, studying in a German school, will help her better understand the students’ struggle.

  “Two big things made me a teacher. One is the fact that I love learning, the other is I love children of all ages. Maybe I am still a kid. I feel proud when I see how much they can achieve. I cannot image doing anything else other than teaching. Even when I was young, the way I studied was actually to teach others.”

  Filipa has started Chinese lessons at the school. In fact, she actually started teaching herself with CDs and books before coming here.

  “I think next year, when the school is more settled, I might learn Taiji.”

By Xing Yangjian

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