An early Thursday morning for the students in Cwmaman Primary. However, this was not just any ordinary morning. It was the first time the class of 30 in the Welsh school met up with their peers from almost halfway across the world.
“UK-China Connecting Classes” is a project bringing together classes from the UK and China for unique cross-border learning and interaction sessions. Teachers will collaborate to bring their students together for meaningful Skype sessions where children will gain a different perspective about the lives, culture and language of their foreign friends.
Below is an excerpt of the experience documented by our teachers.
Today, students from Cwmaman Primary are waiting in anticipation of meeting their Chinese peers from Tianhe Kindergarten. There is strong sense of curiosity abound. What is school like for these foreign friends based in Guangzhou China? Will we be able to communicate with them?
It’s 9am UK time (4pm in China). The children’s faces lit up as the projector screen buzzes. A couple of moments later, a roar of chatter fills the room as children begin waving their hands.
As soon as the Skype call begins, both the Chinese and Welsh students begin greeting each other with enthusiasm. A chorus of “Ni Hao” and “Hello” fills the air. Surprisingly, the “Ni Haos” are coming from the Welsh students while “Hellos” are echoing in the Chinese classroom!
The teachers beam with pride, having prepared the children beforehand. What better way to welcome new friends than by greeting them in their own language!
Now, it is time to move on to our sharing session! As planned, the teachers guide the students in simple sharing about various topics that are relatable to the lives of both UK and Chinese students.
From raising their flags, to introducing images of their countries, the onlooking students stay glued to the screen, often with their mouths gapping at this eye-opening experience.
Next up, “Breakfast in my country”. The Chinese students go first, holding up plates of Chinese buns, a popular breakfast item in their country. This is interesting for our Welsh students, as they stare at the numerous buns of various shapes. Even better, the Chinese teacher begin to guide the students in splitting open each bun to reveal the delicious fillings they contain. One by one, the Chinese students teach their Welsh friends to say out the names of each bun. Look at the joy in their faces as their Welsh friends repeat the names of the buns in English and Chinese!
Breakfast is over, time for some cultural activities! What a surprise, knowing that they were going to welcome friends from abroad, some students actually wore traditional Welsh and Chinese outfits to class today just for our meet!
How about some singing? The same song in different languages – will our students notice? Our Welsh class begins off with a harmonious rendition of “Twinkle, twinkle little stars”. Though our Chinese students barely understand the words, you can see the wide smiles on their faces. In this moment, it feels though language barriers are insignificant in the minds of these young children.
Finally, it is time to say goodbye, or rather, it is time to say “See you again!”. As the students waved goodbye to each other, they extend a gleeful invitation to meet again same time next week.
Overall, it has been an exciting and meaningful day for us and the students alike. Allowing children, the unique exposure to friends from a foreign country and facilitating meaningful interactions between them. Though simple, this session has captivated our students into learning more about the lives of others, and piqued curiosity about the world beyond the UK and China.
Until next time!