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help, this is kind of miserable!
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jjm



Joined: 11 Mar 2013
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:33 am    Post subject: help, this is kind of miserable! Reply with quote

My first uni. job in China is less than what I expected- The kids (freshman) are not too interested and often a little rude. I am supposed to be teaching speaking and listening. The school has provided some suggested resources but often lack some of the resources. I took a CELTA, but this type of teaching requires something different. I do not want to do things like play alot of games , watch American garbage tv, talk about Justin Beeber and basketball during class. What should I do? Tired of spending 3-4 hours a daty preparing for indifference and disrespect. Please help, do not know how to remedy.
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7969



Joined: 26 Mar 2003
Posts: 5682
Location: South China, by the sea.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You should have mentioned how many students you have, what their major is, and if they're mostly male or female. How are they being rude?

What should you do? Here's a suggestion: Find out what the students are interested in and use those ideas as places to start discussion. If that means movies, TV, and basketball then just do it. You can get more creative once you get them speaking a bit.

The internet is full of ideas. Spend a bit of time reading this forum. Search. If you do you'll find threads like the one below that can help you.

University Oral English - "Useful" Homework
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doogsville



Joined: 17 Nov 2011
Posts: 563
Location: China

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds familiar, though at least I have a textbook to follow. I have a class I teach twice a week that sound very similar. Actually, about half the class are disinterested and rude, the others, while not hanging on my every word, at least speak when spoken to and don't fall asleep in every class.

Two things that help me are perspective, looking at the situation from their veiwpoint. My students are mostly business administration students. They didn't choose that major, so the majority have no interest in it. My two weekly business English and listening and speaking classes are the only classes they have in English, and their level is very low. They struggle with the textbook, and the listening and speaking exercises in the other book are very boring and have little cultural relevance for them. Unfortunately the uni writes the exam for that class so we have to stick to the curriculum. Once you realise that they really, really don't want to be there it makes it easier to live with their indifference and rude behaviours such as falling asleep and playing with phones. Not that I let them do either, I wake them up and make them put the phones away. I don't take it personally though, because now I know it's the course, and life in general that they hate, not me and my teaching.

The other thing is finding the students that do care, or listen, even if it's only to be polite. I don't advocate teaching them to the exclusion of the others, because you have to keep trying to help all of them, no matter how hard that is, but at least when your close to exploding or crying or just quitting, you can focus for a while on those students who you know will respond to your lesson.

I know it's not a lot, but the reality is you have to either develop a very thick skin, or look for a job elsewhere. A CELTA is unfortunately of very little use in most teaching jobs in China, since most EFL teacher training makes the assumption that the students will take part in the class. I don't have a CELTA qualification, but I have spent hours and hours planning and preparing classes only to be met with thunderous silence at best, or a room full of people chatting to their friends in Chinese at worst. It's very disheartening, but after a while you learn to adapt and find ways to teach those few students that are interested and willing to take a little risk. Good luck with it, I hope you find a way through.
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choudoufu



Joined: 25 May 2010
Posts: 3222
Location: Mao-berry, PRC

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

doogsville wrote:
..... A CELTA is unfortunately of very little use in most teaching jobs in China, since most EFL teacher training makes the assumption that the students will take part in the class. I don't have a CELTA qualification.....


OP. memorize this ^

the kids in your classes (usually) don't pick their majors, or the schools
they attend. they don't have a chance to design their own schedules.
they are given 30 hours of classes per week........the same schedule
for all the students in that year's major. they live together, they eat
together, they bathe together (once a week.) they lack interest and
motivation.

there is no streaming; half your class will be able to say "i like apple,"
2-3% may be able to hold a very basic conversation, the rest have no
ability whatsoever.

in addition to 30 hours of class, they have 'morning readings,' campus
cleanup, mandatory 'study' sessions, and so on. they're really tired,
and really bored. are you 'lecturing' in class?

half the kids are sleeping or texting. those are the honest ones. the
other half are watching you intently, although most have no idea what
you're saying. they'll stare at you for two hours, write down anything
you put on the board in their little notebooks (which they will never look
at again), but ask any of them what you just said, and you'll just get
a 'bu dong.'

search the old posts. plenty of threads with titles like "help! how do i
teach writing?" or "students bored -- what to do?" or "what's your
favorite speaking activitiy?"
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Shroob



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 958

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To say the CELTA is useless for teaching in Chinese universities is wrong in my opinion. I agree that not everything you learnt on the course is put to full use but there are many aspects I use every day when teaching.

My advice would be to accept that there are just some students who will not be interested. As others have said, the students most likely don't want to study English, it's a class they must attend. Focus on the ones that do want to learn, try and engage everyone, but from what you have said that probably won't happen. Try not be disheartened.
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 2314
Location: China

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Remember they get plenty of 'dud' teaching from the Chinese staff, so try things that they won't get in those classes. A song as a warm up - something that has bounce all the way through - not a catchy chorus and awful verses.
I use Beatles stuff 'I say yes, you say no' is good and teaches pairs.
Word races - anything to get them out of their seats.
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hochhasd



Joined: 03 Jul 2008
Posts: 420

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

choudoufu wrote:
doogsville wrote:
..... A CELTA is unfortunately of very little use in most teaching jobs in China, since most EFL teacher training makes the assumption that the students will take part in the class. I don't have a CELTA qualification.....


OP. memorize this ^

the kids in your classes (usually) don't pick their majors, or the schools
they attend. they don't have a chance to design their own schedules.
they are given 30 hours of classes per week........the same schedule
for all the students in that year's major. they live together, they eat
together, they bathe together (once a week.) they lack interest and
motivation.

there is no streaming; half your class will be able to say "i like apple,"
2-3% may be able to hold a very basic conversation, the rest have no
ability whatsoever.

in addition to 30 hours of class, they have 'morning readings,' campus
cleanup, mandatory 'study' sessions, and so on. they're really tired,
and really bored. are you 'lecturing' in class?

half the kids are sleeping or texting. those are the honest ones. the
other half are watching you intently, although most have no idea what
you're saying. they'll stare at you for two hours, write down anything
you put on the board in their little notebooks (which they will never look
at again), but ask any of them what you just said, and you'll just get
a 'bu dong.'

search the old posts. plenty of threads with titles like "help! how do i
teach writing?" or "students bored -- what to do?" or "what's your
favorite speaking activitiy?"


Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy It gets even better when your grade has no meaning towards their overal good luck
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doogsville



Joined: 17 Nov 2011
Posts: 563
Location: China

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apologies, on second thoughts I should not have said the CELTA is useless, bad choice of words. What I mean is that a lot of TEFL methodology simply falls on the stony ground of blank faces and an unwillingness to speak up for fear of making a mistake. I watched a video on the internet recently of a class in a western university where the students were arguing with the teacher and each other and really engaging in the class, and I nearly cried.
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mcloo7 needs to read this thread as most of the advice given to him suggests uni work is the easiest.

@doogsville - my classes in the UK are German teens, normally 15 - 18 years old, and they do just as you describe. They'll fall straight into class discussions, pair work, group work etc. You'd love it. A point to note is my adult students in Chinese training centres do just the same too, speaking only English in groups etc etc.

Anyway ... jjm

What I would suggest you need to do, is something different. Whatever it is you are doing now obviously isnt working so you need a very new approach. Think about your teaching style / material / activities / approach and consider how you can change one or all of these things to engage your students better.

Watch one or two Chinese teachers at work. Not that Im saying their methodology is a winner, but they may have types of activities that Chinese students are used to / respond well to, and you can use them in your own teaching practice. Reading out loud is one example, linguistically its a bit of a waste of time normally, but students are used to it and tend to expect it so it can work for you perhaps?

Dont under-estimate the use of games. Why wouldnt you want to use them? They make great warmers, fillers and can be used as a treat to end a lesson. A colleague of mine writes G A M E on his whiteboard and makes a rule during his lesson. Each time the rule is broken, he crosses a letter out, if at least one letter remains, he plays a game for the last 10 minutes of that class. Students tend to like that. Dictation races can interest a dull class sometimes too.

Can you take students outside? Perhaps some drama / movement type activity will engage them?

As far as topics - sport and pop music dont seem like topics that should be avoided? Add in the boring and oft-used family / BF & GF / Jobs etc. Students need to talk about things that are relevent to them, and things they have the linguistic knowledge to discuss. If that means Justin Bieber then its all good IMO. Music isnt a bad place to start either. Im not a big fan of students singing songs myself, but I do use songs and music in class if there is TL I want to use. Think about how you can use music, including a bit of Bieber Smile

Consider your class manner and approach. Be very analytical of your own habits. Are you grading your language and speech enough ensuring that all the students understand you? Nothing is going to turn sections of your class off quicker than them not understanding you. This is possibly one of the biggest errors newer teacher make.

Are you dynamic in class? The vast majority of Chinese students put FTs on some kind of pedestal, and there is a novelty value in most students (esp freshmen) in having an FT. (You may be their first FT ever!). We need to play on that and make the most of it. Its OK to act kooky, quirky and be active etc.

Feel free to disregard anything Ive posted. If you think its all useless advice fair enough, if there is one single thing you can use then do. What I think is clear though, is that what you are currently doing needs to change ... doing the same thing is just going to get the same result.

Good luck!

edited to add: I did an activity once where I gave a different student 10 -15 minutes of my class when they could be the teacher. Id let them know a week in advance and I gave them a part of the material to teach with them deciding how to teach it and being 100% responsible for everything in the class at that point. They could tell students off and discipline them etc. Obv I only chose the stronger students to be the teacher, but the whole class was always engaged because they got to see their classmate teach. Something like this might be an idea to try out?
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jjm



Joined: 11 Mar 2013
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback. I think that I should not create unnecessary obstacles for the learners by being extremely dry (actually I am pretty lively and funny) at the same time they should come prepared to be a part of the class just like they do for the Chinese teachers. I am unwilling to use some aspects of pop culture as I find it less than attractive, and object to some content. This of course is not the position that I ask another to take, but personally am not going that route.

I very much appreciate knowing from others that the situation presented is a common one. As strange as it may sound I think maybe that I need to prepare little less, and not take it so seriously.
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jjm wrote:
I am unwilling to use some aspects of pop culture as I find it less than attractive, and object to some content. This of course is not the position that I ask another to take, but personally am not going that route.


TBH I think your view of pop culture isnt relevant, its a question of its relevance to your teaching context, your opinion shouldnt really matter. You could be missing a valuable route and source of materials if you allow personal interests, likes and dislikes to influence your classroom approach. That cuts both ways of course ... you cant teach something just because its interesting to you either. That student centered approach has to be part and parcel of all teaching practice I think.

Id be interested to know what you are teaching, how you set it up and structure the activities etc. I also tend to over-plan things, but I think thats OK too. Far better to overplan than underprepare I think.

If you want to PM me a typical or recent lesson to look at, Id be happy to cast my eye over it and offer feedback or suggestion. Again, feel free to disregard it .. I dont teach in the university setting so what I say may be pants ... (I wouldnt teach in that setting TBH as I wouldnt wish to be in the teaching scenario you know have).

I have worked in a similar area though and did three terms in a vocational college with similar age students and large classes.
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mcloo7



Joined: 18 Aug 2009
Posts: 404
Location: Hangzhou

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Denim-Maniac wrote:
mcloo7 needs to read this thread as most of the advice given to him suggests uni work is the easiest.


Haha. Thanks.

What do you think is the easiest? Or is there no such thing? I'll reread the thread I made about this again, but I dont recall anyone saying anything other than universities or public schools.

I see the advantage of training centers because most of the people there probably want to be there- at least the adults. But I only want to work five days a week and all the training center jobs Ive seen so far either say six days a week or dont say anything about it, which makes me think they are also six days a week.
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Non Sequitur



Joined: 23 May 2010
Posts: 2314
Location: China

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EXCELLENT advice from Denin-Maniac. Love the one about writing GAME on the board.
The comment is about pop culture is good too.
Don't over-intellectualise what we do. We're not poisoning them with Western materialism. English for the majority is a bit of code they have to learn.
A bit like semaphore or Morse in another era.
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jjm



Joined: 11 Mar 2013
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there a recommended online resource or text book I might use to help me prepare lesson? I am not asking for a book that teaches method, etc. Rather instead something that specifically provides cookie cutter lesson plans? I am thinking it might benefit me to draw some such until I get the hang of this. I am spending too much of my own time and emotional energy on this.

As to pop-culture- Cannot go there. Will often be a matter of conscience.
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7969



Joined: 26 Mar 2003
Posts: 5682
Location: South China, by the sea.

PostPosted: Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jjm wrote:
Is there a recommended online resource or text book I might use to help me prepare lesson? I am not asking for a book that teaches method, etc. Rather instead something that specifically provides cookie cutter lesson plans?

There are hundreds of such sites. Here's one:

http://www.tefl.net/esl-lesson-plans/

I've never used this site, never really looked at it closely, it was just the first one that came up on a google search for ESL lesson plans.

jjm wrote:
As to pop-culture- Cannot go there. Will often be a matter of conscience.

If you're not willing to discuss pop culture with your students (one of the few areas they're usually genuinely interested in) or use it as a basis for a lesson, then you're only making your life more difficult and your students less interested. Care to tell us why you object so strongly? Someone might be able to assist.
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