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How Teaching in China Influenced me as a TEFL Specialist

How Teaching in China Influenced me as a TEFL Specialist | ITTT | TEFL Blog

I, as an out of school English teacher, have been teaching English in China for about one year. My students are coming from elementary schools or middle schools. The teaching is one to one. The background and personality of my students are various. Some students are very interested in learning English and want to take extra courses to improve their English proficiency.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Nan W. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Students’ Struggles

Some students feel having more challenges in grammar, vocabulary or speaking. Some students are not interested in learning English but have to learn it due to the pressure from school and their parents. In the beginning, I feel difficulty to deal with those students who lack the interest in learning English. Fortunately, I found TEFL and registered immediately. From the course, I learned how to motivate the students’ interest in learning English. In my English teaching practice, I realized that how to encourage students to learn English is so important especially for those who are reluctant to learn it. I find many different ways to elicit the motivation of the students.

Also Read: The Top 5 Places to Teach English in Vietnam

English Speaking Environment

In China, there is no English environment in daily life for students although there are many English books, CDs and video sources we can choose. This is one of the reasons that cause a lot of students not to have an aspiration to learn it. To those students my first task is not to teach English to them but how to motivate them to be willing to learn it. My strategy is to introduce/combine English in those they are interested in. Firstly I learn what his/her interest is. To get this point I talk and play with them to find what they like. To communicate with their parents is also important to understand their children. For the students who like sports, I start by selecting the topic related to each game they like. If the students like pets I begin to teach them the vocabularies of animals. To those who like music, I start by singing an English song and explain the words in the song. The beautiful tune and the words of the song usually attract those students and thus they are willing to learn the vocabularies and the language.

city skyline

Also Read: How much can I earn teaching English in China?

Forceful Learning vs. Personal Approach

For the students who like science, I cut in from a simple science laboratory. For example, one of my students is in grade five. His favorite subject is science. He does not want to study English and never tries to remember English vocabulary and sentences. I talked to him about the Mpemba effect that shows that hot water needs less time to freeze than cold water does when you put hot water and cold water into a freezer at the same time. He was attracted and he indeed did the test at home. The test is related to a lot of English words such as water, cup, temperature, cooling rate, refrigerator, etc. and can introduce some grammar in the description of the procedure of the test. I gave him homework to let him write down the procedure of his test in English.

He sent me a nice report about it. I also have another student who is not willing to learn English and she gets poor English scores in school. She told me that she does not like her English teacher in a school and therefore does not like to learn English. What I did is try to be a good friend of her until she is willing to open her heart to talk to me. Then she will listen to my advice and realized the English can open another window for her to view a different world. Later on her school, English test scores rise and she gets more and more interest in English gradually.

Also Read: Motivation: That’s What Classroom and Political Arena Have in Common

For those students who are very interested in learning English, I choose a different way. I help/encourage them to classify the words based on objects, activities, etc. For example, how to describe a person's appearance? What are the names of body organs? What are you seeing when you get into a grocery store? Find the antonym and synonym of a word. To the students who have a better English background, I ask them to watch English movies and write a description of the movie.

There are some students who complain that they have difficulty to spell the English words. After my observation, I notice that they rarely read the text and vocabulary. The four skills known as listening, speaking, reading, and writing are correlated and usually in that order when we obtain the first language. For the sake of this, I asked students to the readout. However, if you want to read correctly you have to listen first. After I emphasized the listening and reading the students’ writing/spelling got improved.

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As an English teacher of children teaching English only is not enough. To be a friend, a parent, a psychologist at the same time can help teaching and learning and sometimes are important. Inspiring students’ enthusiasm to learn English is critical.

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