REAP Summer "Fresh" Training Course for Migrant School Teachers Opens in Beijing

The Summer "Fresh" 2009 training course for migrant school teachers opened today at Zhongchu Hotel and Training Center, near Bajiao, with a talk by Brian Sharbono from Stanford University, the Managing Director of the Rural Education Action Project (REAP).

Summer "Fresh" is an English training course sponsored by REAP and offered to English teachers from dozens of migrant schools in Beijing. The three week, six days per week, intensive course will provide the migrant teachers a refresher in English grammar, practice in spoken English, and sessions dedicated to the pedagogy of teaching English.

Sharbono spoke on the importance of the education of migrant children in the context of China's education system and it's importance for China's economic development. Linxiu Zhang, Deputy Director of the Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Director of REAP-China also discussed the background and motivation for the training.

The 35 teachers invited to the event were randomly selected by REAP from a subgroup of more than 100. Prior to the training REAP gave a standardized English test to the 35 "selected" teachers, the 65 "not selected"  teachers and all of their students. REAP will retest all teachers and students at the end of the fall semester to see whether "training the teachers" makes a lasting difference.

Clear from the first day sessions is that the teachers' morale is high. After the opening talks, the migrant teachers, who will be living together during the three weeks, introduced themselves one by one. Nearly all expressed great appreciation for the invitation to attend.

"I have looked for a long time for an opportunity to improve my English teaching, because I want to better help the children in my classes," explained one participant, drawing enthusiastic applause from the audience. "But training is either very expensive or not available. So, I am very happy to be here and very thankful for this opportunity!"

Three trainers will lead the classes. Lisa Yiu, a PhD student from Stanford University School of Education, is an experienced teacher who researches issues of migrant education. Beijing-based, Diana Diao has more than 25 years of experience teaching English to students at all levels and training English teachers. Adam Ma, is a lecturer in the English Department at Capital Normal University, Beijing, and a PhD student in applied linguistics at Beijing Normal University.

Summer “Fresh” 2009 is a collaborative project of Stanford University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Center for Cultural Development of Migrant Children in Beijing and Renmin University. Volunteers from several universities and institutions are assisting.