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Teaching In China

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2003 4:27 am
by lukevulpiani
I am teaching in a middle in school in Shanghai, China. Does anyone have suggestions for materials for teaching SPOKEN ie speaking and listening, English to classes of 50+ students. I do not have a textbook and the school will let me teach pretty much what I want. Some of the students are enthusiastic, but in a class of 50 its difficult to engage with the students. I would also be interested in other peoples experience of teaching English in China. How they found it and what methods worked. Thanks.

Guangxi Province

Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2003 1:51 am
by Jed
Hi Luke,

The situation in Guangxi sounds similar. I am an Australian teaching at a middle school in Qinzhou, southern Guangxi. I teach 14 classes per week to senior grade 1 students with around 85 kids in each class. We have limited teaching aids, no set syllabus and great flexibilty in lesson composition. My contract began on 2nd March for 5 months and I have so far been focussing on Australia in my lessons. Subjects have included Australian sayings, proverbs, songs and poetry. I have tried to engage the students as much as possible with visual aids, reading, listening and speaking but as you say, 1 on 1 dialogues are a little difficult with 80+ students in 40 minute classes.


Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2003 2:52 am
by lukevulpiani
Hi Jed,

Thanks for the reply. Seems its not just me, but the situation throughout China. One of the biggest problems I have is that while some students are really interested, some don't think its worthwhile because what they are learning won't help them pass their exam. There's such a mixture of ability and enthusiasm in the class that your dealing with a wide range of problems, including people reading Chinese newspapers, doing maths homework etc. as soon as my backs turned. Plus on top of this the school doesn't want me to teach reading and writing, which restricts what I can do.

Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2003 5:14 am
by sita

I teach in Germany!
85 :!: :!: in one class.
Unbelievable I admire your dedication and sadly can only wish you all the best but have absolutely NO idea how one can cope with such huge classes.

Siân :?

Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2003 1:59 pm
by lagerlout2005
Hello---It does seem like a cant-win. I do the same type of class--if I do a complex grammer type thing they are bored and I lose them-I tried a lighter topic like dating and that bombed. (I posted on the adult side and got a couple of good ideas.) One thing is I think dont worry that it is an oral class. Do whatever you need to-you can always tell your super that it is necessary and I think they will let it go. What I do-and this may be no help-is use 15 minute segments. The first 15 I introduce whatever topic and vocab and try to get them speaking---the 2nd 15 they are in groups...they speak Chinese but at least they are getting a presentation ready. for the last few minutes...Not perfect but they do something at least.

Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2003 4:09 am
by lukevulpiani
To Lagerlout,
thanks for the reply. It seems that I've adopted a similar strategy to you. My lessons are fourty minutes long, so I spend 10 minutes trying to teach them something, then give them 20 minutes to put it to use in a conversation and 10 minutes for presentation at the end. They still speak Chinese, but if they know they may have to present at the end at least it means they have to come-up with something in English. There still some students who don't do anything, but I'm taking the attitude that its their choice and theres only so much I can do.

Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 1:40 pm
by clarer
I look at what their method english teachers are teaching them and then reinforce the language they have learnt, usually roles plays are best for me. I pick one student to start the dialogue, A:blah blah blah, then when they have finished they can give the chalk to another student, it can be lots of fun as invariably someone who's english is not great gets picked, but then they all help out or I do. After we have written up a mini dialogue I pick some people to act it out, after they have read, they all get to choose someone to replace them. Again that's good as the shy ones get picked and have to read. I also play hangman at the end of a class if I have some spare time. My classes are about 60--70 kids and I know the divide is great, some have a good understanding and then some are completely clueless.

Posted: Sat Jan 21, 2006 10:58 pm
by wctman
Here are a couple of classroom activities that have gone over very well wth middle school kids:

1) take a ball, or pen, or something that can be easily hidden away in class. Send a student out into the hall, and have the rest of the class agree on a hiding place for the object. The student reentering the room is given 5 chances to find the object. They can ask any 5 students: Do you have my "ball?" A) No, I don't have your ball, or Yes, I do have your ball. Most kids found the ball inside of 5 guesses, and some of them on the first try ( in a class of 40; I couldn't believe it ).

2) 40 kids, so 4 teams of 10. I would provide the start of a sentence such as: Yesterday, I...Or, Chinese girls are... The team representative would have to complete the sentence with 1 point awarded for each word added. No repetitions, no pauses, no ums allowed. The longer the answer, the more points. Example: Yesterday, I...went shopping with my mother, my brother, my father, my uncle. We bought apples, and bananas and...

Soon, we had to put a limit of 50 words on because the kids would ramble on throwing as many words as the could into the sentence. Which was the whole idea.

Hope these ideas work for you.

Posted: Sun Jan 22, 2006 4:07 am
by clarer
that sounds great, I'll try that out when school terms starts again, thanks for the idea

information gap activities and "mingles"

Posted: Fri Feb 17, 2006 1:37 am
by k9fan
A couple more suggestions for getting students to communicate verbally are information gap exercises and "mingle" activities (where you provide one question per student and then students must walk around the classroom, asking each other their questions, getting an answer, and then exchanging questions and finding another partner). I don't teach kids, but these always get my adult students talking.