Teaching large classes of Chinese teenagers oral English

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Teaching large classes of Chinese teenagers oral English

Unread postby Emmalou » 07 Sep 2010, 03:38

I have recently arrived in China and have been put into a junior school to teach y8's 'speaking english' classes. They are 14-15yrs old and there are between 50 and 70 pupils in each class. I have 14 different classes a week so i can't even get to know them. I believe they are about an intermediate level. I was given a textbook but the other English teachers use it so all the children already know it all. As i don't have a textbook to use and there are so many of them i really don't know what to do. I had thought about splitting them into groups to do group work but there isn't anyway for me to walk around the class to moitor and help them out. They are also really shy at participating in the class so i can't really play any games either.

Have you any idea how i can improve their speaking and listening?

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Re: Teaching large classes of Chinese teenagers oral English

Unread postby jasminade » 10 Sep 2010, 02:35


I was in the same position as you some time back. Basically use all the resources at your disposal. Is there a computer with projector in each class? If so, that will save you a lot of time (always prepare for a time when something is not working - in other words, always have a lesson at hand that does not require sound and pictures/video). The kids always like to look at something other than a textbook.

I see that there is a coursebook and that all the kids "already know it". Well, if it is the Oxford book that they are using (sounds like it), then you will see that you can use the themes in the book and ask them questions. I mean, they learn a little about Paris, that it is a romantic city, well, why is it romantic? They learn about autumn when the leaves fall, then why do the leaves fall (lack of sunlight)? There is a poem in the book about noisy neighbours, doors slamming, a baby screaming etc. then why not read out the poem and over-emphasise these "sound" words. Poetry is excellent for listening and indeed pronunciation skills.

Basically, these students' parents are each paying for you to the school (I kid you not), and the students will go home and be asked about your lesson. If you keep to the themes of the book, you will be asked back time and time and time again.

In regards to photocopying etc. Why not use acetate? So you can hand them out and request that the students hand them back to you at the end of the lesson?

And each school should provide a teacher to sit at the back of the class. Sometimes a teacher will not be there, but they should be. If a class is unruly then demand that a teacher is there. Remember these are teenagers so you will always get some problematic students. Don't take it personal and try to get the majority of the class on your side, so to speak.

Write everything down. Keep a record of your classes and afterwards, write down what works and of course, what does not work. Keep a record of the unruly students. Have a code so that you can quickly mark down these trouble-makers. In a large class, for example, you will have maybe four columns of students, each in a pair of desks, making eight "lines" of students. So, for example, I would write the note "lhs3 4", which means, left hand side, third line from wall, fourth student. The next time that I return to the class, usually the next week, I am prepared. And I might write "vgap" which means I would look forward to this class: "very good as per (usual).

And have a decent plan. You will be teaching the lesson 14 times. You will then quickly get the hang of it. Remember to record this, so that, in the second year, you will love yourself...

And if there are computers put your lessons on to a CDrom/DVD as there are many bing du (viruses).

Enjoy! I thought I would dislike teaching teenagers, but I must admit it was a very enjoyable experience. I have moved on to working in a research institute, but I still leave aside one afternoon to teach at a local Zhong Xue (middle school), just for the love of it!

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