An annual excursion to Singapore provides RMIT University’s Health and Physical Education students with a unique learning experience and a chance to apply their skills in an international setting.
Students in their final year of a Bachelor of Applied Science (Health and Physical Education) have the opportunity to complete a work placement in Singapore, teaching at a local secondary school.
Coordinated by Dr Jason Wong, physical education lecturer from the School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, the trip reflects RMIT’s commitment to giving students the opportunity to experience a diversity of people and culture and prepare them for global careers.
“Our overall aim is to prepare students to be work-ready, to have a universal outlook and to be competent as future teachers,” Wong said.
“This placement really provides an opportunity for students to enhance their teaching approach and improve their employability upon graduation.”
The international experience forms part of student’s compulsory teaching placement which is a prerequisite for their teacher registration.
The selection process is competitive and students are chosen based on their ability to demonstrate why they should be selected and how the experience will enhance their career.
Students are based in Singapore for four weeks, teaching up to four hours a day – excluding planning and preparation – under the supervision of the local school’s physical education staff at Christ Church Secondary School.
In the lead up to the trip, Wong meets regularly with students to prepare them for the different aspects of teaching in Singapore and to design classes.
“In addition to teaching, students prepare a professional learning workshop for the school’s physical education staff,” Wong said.
“They are briefed thoroughly on the expectations of the teaching placement, as well as cultural differences and management.”
Health and Physical Education student, Jarrod Mitchell took part in the excursion in 2016.
“A lot of our planning for lessons involved working out how to manage the large number of students effectively; including how to get them into groups, how to transition between activities etc.,” Mitchell said.
“We also had to plan short, clear explanations of activities and teaching points so that we were not talking too much and confusing the students with our accents and pronunciation.”
Mitchell said there are multiple differences, in terms of education, between Singapore and Australia.
“One of the main differences is the class sizes – there can be over 40 students in one class in Singapore,” he said.
“Another difference is their daily schedule; they start their school day at 7:30am and most students have classes until 4pm with some students even staying as late as 7pm!
“Professionally, I grew a lot over the period through the process of learning how to communicate effectively with others in our team and by taking on board some honest feedback,” Mitchell said.
“Overall, I think it was hugely beneficial to be able to explore a different style of education and to manage students with different cultural backgrounds.”
In their spare time, students are free to visit Singapore’s sites including Sentosa Island, Universal Studios, the Singapore Zoological Gardens and Orchard Road.
Wong said the students understand the significance of having an opportunity to teach in a foreign country.
“Many previous participants are now confidently teaching in a professional capacity – both here and overseas – and their feedback post-trip is that the experience was really constructive,” Wong said.
The Singapore teaching experience was developed by Dr Wong and Mr Gerard Morais, an RMIT Health and Physical Education graduate, who both have a background teaching in Singapore.