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How to Deal With Problems That Learners of English Face in China

How to Deal With Problems That Learners of English Face in China | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Nowadays, English is becoming more and more popular and significant in China because of globalization. In big cities, parents send their kids to all kinds of organizations/schools to study English in their early three years. Some capable parents even use English as their communicative language from the first day the baby was born. No matter how early Chinese starts learning English, it’s still not our mother language and the atmosphere is still in Chinese, which makes learning English not as easy as those in English countries.

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

Different Dialects

In my point of view, here are some common problems of learners of English in China. There are many kinds of dialects that are different from the official language – Mandarin, in terms of pronunciation, intonation and vocal. Some may even can’t speak Mandarin well, not to speak of English. Some of them are surrounded by different dialects every day. For example, the mother speaks Cantonese, the father speaks Hakka, which makes it more complicated to distinguish between different languages. English hence becomes fossilization as their dialects.

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Aims of Learning

English learning is often more of ‘making to learn’, but not ‘willing to learn’ when they were young. And this means normally they are no incentive to learn and won’t spend enough time and energy to improve.

In common families, the elder generations are not capable of speaking English. They have studied English when they were in school but their knowledge faded out after graduation. So the learners can’t get better guidance and influence during family time.

Useful Methods

How shall we face these kinds of problems and find effective ways to help them solve difficulties? As a future English teacher, I will try my best to put what I learned from the EFL course into practice.

1. Environment

We can’t change the environment the students live but we can ensure the best English learning atmosphere in the school. English should be the only language that is allowed for the teacher during class to familiarize students in the way of English expression, pronunciation, and phonology. Most importantly, maximize student talk time. For students of similar ages, they’ve got some problems with learning English. So encourage them to talk to each other in English and share their concerns about learning.

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2. Role Model

To distinguish English from other dialects, teachers acting as models are critical and we should encourage students to follow the way of speaking of professional persons as well. I have been following an official account that teaches people how to pronounce words and how to handle intonation and liaison. Even though it’s only around ten minutes every day, I have made great progress after persisting for one year and now I get rid of the accent that most Chinese people share.

3. Games

For kids, what they like to do is playing, so try to make the lessons interesting and funny, get them motivated. In the engage phase and activate stage, we should involve as many interesting games like singing and drawing as possible to get children’s attention; for youth students, try to figure out the subjects they are interested in and apply to the lessons, like playing videos to share a related topic. Give students a specific assignment, even though it’s only ten-minutes-work, to keep their passion and devotion. Another useful point is, try to make ourselves adorable because students always are willing to spend more time to do exercises of their favorite teachers. Being friends, not just mentors is easier to gain students’ favor.

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4. Family guidance

Family guidance plays a crucial role in students’ studying. Though parents may not know English, we can still cooperate with them to ensure our strategy get practiced. We could ask parents to supervise students to finish related tasks on their own, compliment their efforts and improvement, reflect problems they observe so that we can help during classes. We could even recommend some listening materials, both audio and video, for them to play at home to make an English environment. Moreover, we should encourage parents to study English together with their children and compete together to make progress. Make English learning a family activity.

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