Tom in the Garden

Authors: Go Chengdu

2015-04-16

Tom Becker, from Germany, is a very popular teacher with the Chengdu Garden (International) Primary School.
A growing number of foreigners have settled and found jobs in China, especially in big cities such as Chengdu, where foreign teachers are welcome at universities, high schools, elementary schools and even kindergartens.
In many privately-owned foreign language schools, small classes and individual tutorials with foreign teachers are highly popular. These people coming from Europe, the Americas and other continents, with different complexions, customs and languages, find that the experience working with their students ― studying together, playing together and having fun together ― is quite an enjoyable and unforgettable memory in their life.
This is true to Tom Becker, a young guy from Germany who is currently a teacher with the Chengdu Garden (International) Primary School.
Tom has made his name known to quiet a lot of teachers and young students from schools around the city, just because of an award-winning micro film that tells the story about him and his students, Foreign Teacher in the Garden.
The film won the top award for the category of documentary at a microfilm contest just concluded in Chengdu.
“Thanks to my lovely children and the production team, we made the microfilm a full success. It is my first year teaching in Chengdu but teaching here surely helps me to truly understand the Chinese students,” Tom said happily.
“When I first walked into the classroom this January, I was stunned by the number of students and could see the eagerness in their eyes. Compared with the classes in Germany, the number of students and the learning atmosphere was quite different,” he recalled.
Not content with conventional teaching methods that put stress on receptive learning (teachers usually read texts and students listen), holding an interesting English corner in class, Tom always plays games with his students and encourages them to show their abilities, and sponsors billingual classes in subjects like science, music and arts.
Tom said that the most unforgettable moment was the class at the end of his last semester, before the summer holidays, when his kids gave him a book, with many words that they had written for him.
Tom thinks cultural difference is the biggest problem in teaching in China. “Chinese students always smile and nod while they are listening, even when they do not understand you at all. It took me a long time to realize that. Besides, if they are confused or have a complaint about your class, they wouldn't tell you directly. In my opinion, foreign teachers who understand the cultural differences and cope with the problems well are the most successful.”
Tom loves touring around Chengdu and often visits old towns with his friends. He has learned how to play mahjong as well.
"From the first moment I came to Chengdu, I found it was a beautiful city with lush vegetation. Compared with other metropolitan cities, Chengdu is cleaner with delicate beauty, though it is smaller in size. You can enjoy the leisurely and laidback life in the city, and you can also find some interesting places here, like Jinli (a famous cultural block), which is my favorite,” said Tom.

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