Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teaching Techniques that Work in my Chinese Classroom

For a PC China TEFL certificate, I had to submit a lesson plan and a one-page reflection on how I integrated what I have learned regarding culture, language, school system, students, and social context into my lesson plans and style of teaching in a Chinese classroom.  I mostly wrote about lesson plans and did not touch on teaching style.  Here are some of my thoughts about successful strategies that have helped my teaching.

choral recitation- The students have been reciting texts ever since they started school, so in order to gain students' trust and build their confidence in my classroom, I tend to sometimes request the students to recite a dialogue, a poem or lyrics as a class.

call on the students-  Having observed Chinese teachers, I noticed that they do not usually wait for students to raise their hands and volunteer an answer.  Instead they just call on a student.  In my class each student has an assessment card that I use to keep track of a student's progress.  During each 2 hour course, I use these cards to call on every single student in my class to answer questions.  It is a way for me to take roll call, and it forces every student to speak out loud to help them realize two things.  First, it isn't scary to speak English in front of our class.  Secondly, everyone must speak, not only the best English speakers.  By the end of the term, I am pleasantly surprised to have students raising their hands to volunteer answers.

silly games, theater, songs-  Students love laughing and playing silly games.  They love acting outrageous roles, doing dialogues that have twisted conflicts, and using expressive emotion in their skits.  They love English songs.

walking around the classroom and speaking personally to every student- This is the one way where I can cater to each student's English level by having personal conversations every class.

In four years, there has been one challenge that I haven't been able to overcome.  Students will not listen to a fellow student who is giving an in front of the classroom presentation.  I ask the students to take notes or to be ready to answer questions.  I stand by the talkers and glare at them.  Because I am not a stern teacher, when a student is giving a presentation, I have trouble fighting for the silence of the classroom.  I do believe if I were consistent with my rules and expectations and with positive/negative reinforcement, I'd have a respectfully quiet class listening to their classmate.  I never taught a speech class so I prefer giving different types of tasks rather than battle it out with the talkative students who don't feel like they can learn anything by listening to a non-native speaker.

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