An interview with Vivek Nair, Director at School of the Nations
Vivek Nair is the Director at School of the Nations. He undertook the Teaching ESL Students in Mainstream Classrooms (TESMC) tutor training in 2019 and recently delivered his first Teacher Course as a certified tutor.
Tell us a bit about School of the Nations.
School of the Nations (SON) is an internationally-oriented, English-medium school in Taipa (Macau). From kindergarten to high school, our high academic standards are paired with an equal focus on the artistic, physical, and moral development of our students. For over 30 years we have been innovating in the field of education—from creating an integrated and award-winning curriculum for Kindergarten to introducing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program to Macau. I joined SON as a Grade 6 homeroom teacher in 2001 because I was drawn to the vision of students developing themselves in order to contribute to the well-being of their communities. Eight years later I happily accepted to serve as the school’s Director.
Why did your school decide to implement Lexis Education’s TESMC course?
This was an easy choice. Approximately 75% of our 650 students are local Cantonese speakers. In this context, since we use English as the medium of instruction, English acquisition is a fundamental concern for us. This course provided us with useful tools as we grapple with this on a daily basis.
Did you enjoy participating in the tutor training?
The tutor training was a fantastic opportunity to really get into the concepts behind the course. It was particularly useful to be able to look at the research, analyze the implications, and then see how it translates practically into the classroom. I’ve been to many courses over my career, and this was among the strongest in terms of making the connection between theory and practice.
Who participated in the first Teacher Course you delivered?
When we opened our first Teacher Course we were surprised by the overwhelming interest from local schools. Since our highest aim is to contribute to education equally across Macau, we decided to offer it first to these teachers at local schools where English is the medium of instruction, delaying the enrollment of our own teachers. Now that we are starting our second offering this week, exclusively to our teachers, spaces have filled up quickly as teachers have heard feedback about the first one. We are now considering requiring this course for the majority of our teachers.
I remain in touch with many of the teachers who took our first offering. At times they have shared lesson and unit plans that embed many of the strategies and ideas the course introduced. This is not surprising since each module of the course has very explicit connections to practice.
Do you find the program to be sustainable and cost effective?
Absolutely. The course has over 9 modules and the content is reinforced in between with readings, reflection, and assignments. This provides greater impact compared to attending brief conferences or two-day workshops—with comparable cost. It is no surprise that this course has proved so popular with teachers and administrators alike.