Do you have ideas for a new teacher in China?

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Do you have ideas for a new teacher in China?

Unread postby MattRouss » 19 Sep 2006, 10:35

Dear Lucy,

Thank you for your reply of last August. Now I am in China, I had my first classes and I am worried of not having enough ideas through the semester. My classes are mostly oral so I have two worries.

How can I make them work as most as possible without getting them bored in the class with different activities? Moreover, how should I transfer these oral, reading and sometime writing skills into a mid term and a final exam?

Second, I teach a faculty class, 8 hours a week. Having no experience of teaching, Im asking myself how I can present different stuff week after week, and being well organized? Classes are 3 hours or 2 hours.

I was thinking on going at first, with previous class works, then go on exercices with the book the school provided me and then goes on reading and oral exercices with a newspaper articles or magazine. Working on oral, vocab, reading and pronounciation.

If you could suggest me some ideas and giving your opinion of what I expect to do, it would be really appreciated.

Sincerely,

Matt
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Ideas

Unread postby Lucy » 23 Sep 2006, 13:33

Dear Matt,

I will answer your questions in two separate postings. Firstly your question about teaching faculty classes.

I think you are right to use previous class work and the book the school provided you with. So your initial ideas are good ones. These materials are ready-prepared, so it will be easier for you to plan the lessons. By following the book the school gave you, you are also fulfiling the requirements of your employer.

Your plan to practise reading, vocabulary, speaking and pronunciation is also an excellent one. Using newspaper articles is a good way to do this; think about the needs and interests of your students when you choose an article. You could take a look at the Guardian Weekly newspaper. This is a British newspaper that has a section on how to teach English. Every week, they take an article on a newsy topic and create activities around it. Activities include reading comprehension questions, vocabulary and grammar. I’m sure you’ll find something useful there. When you have used a few of the articles and exercises, you’ll have some ideas for designing your own exercises.

I think it would be a good idea to split the class into 2 sections with a short break in the middle. In one section you work on the course book and in the other section, work on a newspaper article. In order to show continuity in your course, try to plan a series of lessons (3 or 4 would be a good number). Make sure that anything that is presented in one lesson is re-visited in some way in a later lesson. For example, if the coursebook has a series of exercises on the past tenses; plan to do some of them in the first lesson and some in later lessons. This is preferable to doing them all in the same lesson. Another thing to bear in mind is getting a balance between skills and language work. If you plan a few lessons at a time, you will be able to see whether a balance has been achieved. By planning 3 lessons in advance, I’m not suggesting you go into details. A rough outline of which exercise to do on which day is sufficient.

Lucy
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Ideas

Unread postby Lucy » 24 Sep 2006, 17:00

Hello Matt,

Students tend to work well when they are interested in a topic and when they feel they are learning something. For the oral activities in class, I suggest you find out what your students are interested in and then work on those areas. Speaking activities work best when you prepare students for what they are going to do. This means pre-teaching and practising any language structures and vocabulary that will be needed. It also entails giving students time to prepare what they are going to say.

You will increase the speaking time of each student if they work in pairs or groups rather than conducting a speaking activity as a whole class. After teaching and practising the language, and after giving students time to get their ideas together, put students into small groups or pairs. While they are speaking, go around and listen to what they are saying, help them where necessary without getting too involved in the discussion. Also, note down any errors they make and go over them at the end of the activity.

For a speaking exam, you could go away from the traditional one examiner and one student to create an exam where students are tested in pairs or groups. Put students together and give them a topic to discuss; while they are talking you can grade them on pronunciation, sentence structure and use of appropriate vocabulary. You could also mark them on what I like to call “communication aspects”. This is the ability to keep the conversation going within the group by asking classmates for their opinion, etc. It also involves managing a difficult situation; for example, when the student doesn’t know an item of vocabulary, can they improvise?

In a writing exam, you can test any or all of the following: grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, punctuation, organisation of the essay and the ability to link ideas.

You could take a look at an FCE coursebook or exam book. They have very well structured exams and they will give you ideas for creating your own tests. FCE is aimed at intermediate level. If your students are not intermediate, you could look at another UCLES exam.

It is important that whatever you choose as a method for testing, that you explain this to the students beforehand and give them opportunities to practise this type of activity before the exam.

Best wishes,

Lucy
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