Mrs McConnon practising ordering food in a restaurant with a Year 7 Mandarin class before they performed their role play
You’re new to BISS Puxi this year, what made you want to join our school? I was interested in the new post of Assistant Head of Global Languages as I was looking for a senior management position that would draw upon my knowledge and experience of Western and Asian languages and learning approaches. I was very impressed by the leadership team and the school’s focus on facilitating deeper thinking through HPL and through developing students to be caring and confident global citizens.
You’ve lived in China before, where were you living and what made you want to come back to China? My grandmother was one of the first women to study Mandarin in the UK at the School of African and Oriental Studies – though at a time when women were not allowed to graduate! Having completed my PGCE in French and sport, I jumped at the chance to come to China and spent two years in Lanzhou teaching English. I became fascinated by Mandarin and spent the following five years studying in the UK and China for a Master’s in Teaching Chinese as A Foreign Language. I was Head of Languages at an International School in Beijing and also held a number of management roles at the British Embassy and in UK-based charities involved in work related to China. Having lived in China for about 14 years, I feel very much at home here but also enjoy the fact that I am constantly learning something new about China and also about myself!
As a Mandarin teacher, what do you enjoy most about teaching Mandarin? I love working out what are the areas students find difficult and then trying to think of interesting ways to help with the learning. I enjoy seeing students be creative and imaginative in their learning and in their use of the language – in role plays, in games, with songs, with character pictures and stories. It gives me great pleasure to see students enjoy using the language both inside and outside the classroom.
What are your first impressions of Shanghai? I am amazed at the range of products available in the shops now and the amazing underground system which is so efficient and easy to use. I have focused mainly on settling in so far and am looking forward now to being able to go out and explore more.
Where are you from and what do you miss most from home? I am from North London in the UK. I miss family, friends, my former students and early morning taiqi fan practice in the local park with fellow enthusiasts.