In 2004 I was selected by the British Council to work as a Chinese Language Assistant in London where I spent one year teaching Chinese. After this I went back to my school (The High School Affiliated to South China Normal University) to work as an English teacher and this is when I got to know about the NCUK programme and I had first had the idea of doing a masters course in the UK.
I asked the Principal of my school for advice as well as many other people and they all recommended Leeds, and I also did my own searching on the internet. Leeds was recommended because of the good reputation that Leeds has in China and the fact that the Education department is in a leading position in this field within Europe. Another reason was the links the department already has with GuangDong University of Foreign Studies and this School has trained teachers from there so people said that Leeds was the place to go.
The programme so far has been wonderful, exactly what I expected. I think the programme and the department helps students in two ways. Firstly it helps you get used to life here. Everyone takes care of us and all the staff and students are very friendly and make you feel at home and very relaxed.
There are a lot of introductory activities which help you gain confidence and realise that you're not alone, you're in a group who can always help. The department organises a residential weekend which helps you to make friends and has helped improved my social awareness.
The second way it helps is the academic aspect. The teachers are all very responsible and always make it easy to understand. We have a personal tutor who we see once a week which means you can get to know each other and build up a good relationship, and also the academic tutors really welcome us and we can speak to them about any issues we have. There are also a lot of excellent resources - the skills centre, the library, the academic training workshops and the TESOL forum.
I think that as long as you make full use of what is available and try your best then you can definitely achieve your academic goals here at Leeds. I'm sure it will be very helpful to my future career. It's really helped me to reflect on what I've done in my 14 years as a teacher. It's helped me rise to a higher level so that I can use the professional knowledge I've gained to reflect on what I'm doing.
The programme has also opened my horizons - I've learnt a lot from our teachers and also my course mates who are all very professional and many of them are leading teachers in their own countries. We all share experiences and share ideas and really learn through that. As an English teacher I think you have to go beyond the books - you need a broader view of the world and be able to put things in a cultural context. It has definitely improved my ability, my professional skills, and my understanding and awareness of English.
Leeds is a dynamic city and very convenient, especially for Chinese students. There are even Chinese supermarkets where you can find everything you need. I didn't realise that everything was so close - I can do everything I need in my daily life within 15 minutes walk, including where I live, the University and the City.
I've also noticed a big difference in the living costs between here and when I worked in London, it's much, much cheaper - for accommodation, for food, for clothes.
There are a large number of Chinese students at the University and you never feel too lonely. You always hear people talking Chinese around campus.
Find out more about the MA TESOL programme.