Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaching News

I am teaching an English Short Story class to juniors and after three weeks of teaching, I have realized that my content level is too high.  I get really excited about teaching content classes because I have this great desire to get the students thinking about diverse ideas and hear their opinions.  I want to have an intellectual exchange of ideas.  I want to stop talking about the weather, food, dreams, daily activities, etc...  But I forget that English is their second language, and it is hard to express more complicated ideas in a second language.  

Today I taught a three paragraph essay written by a Chinese scholar about the different way Chinese people and American people feel and think about home.  It had a lot of implied information rather than directly stated information.  The students said, "They did not understand the article at all.  It was too hard."  When the level of a class is too high, it becomes frustrating for both the students and the teacher.  I need to pick easier material.  

In my other junior Short Story class, I gave them a choice between two teaching methods.  Because the class is so big, the first method I decided to implement focused on writing, reading and thinking.  The second method I could implement would be focused on reading and oral English activities, if the students' promised to ONLY speak English.  If they really want the second method I guess I can endure the noise that 70 students talking out loud would create.  

I told the class,  "We will take a vote.  If you agree say aye in a normal voice.  Do not shout."  

I stood in front of them and said, "If you want teaching method one please say aye now."  A loud thunderous aye resulted.  

I then asked, "If you want teaching method two please say aye now."  A loud thunderous aye resulted.

I asked, "How many of you voted twice?  You have to choose one and only say aye once for the one you want."   I took the vote again and had the same result, two loud thunderous ayes.  

Finally, we did it by a show of hands.  About 40 students wanted the first teaching method and only 10 wanted the second.  Why did the voice vote not work?  (Check out this blog posting from a former China PCV about choice in the classroom.) In my second class the voice vote worked fine.

Tonight in the Tree House, one of the discussion questions was If you could change one thing about yourself, what would you change?

The girls answered, "I want less oily hair.  I want a slimmer figure.  I want a prettier face.  I want to be more outgoing.  I don't want to change anything.  I like myself the way I am."

The boys answered, "I want to change my major.  I want to be successful so my parents can work less.  I want to have more of my parent's good qualities."

1 comment:

ieva said...

I am not surprised that voice vote did not work. It would not work here in Latvia (East Europe) too (however our mentality must be far away from chinese). And wishes about changes seem absolutely normal for me too. Students are the same wherever they live. :)