Teach English in Meidaizhao Zhen - Baotou Shi

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When an ESL teacher prepares a lesson for a group of students the natural objective is to empower them to communicate in the language effectively, confidently, and assertively. An important factor in this is that the teacher maintains good control over the lessons and the content being discussed, though another essential element is the ability of the teacher to permit students to help each other organically. Not only does this allow them to assist each other is ways the teacher may not always be able to, but it also has the effect of helping the one assisting to better internalize and apply the language features they are helping with. According to an article from the Harvard Graduate School website, “Researchers have found that learning from fellow students fosters deep understanding of the material and a positive attitude toward the subject matter,”1 and that, “simply preparing to teach others deepens one’s own knowledge.”1 Taking this further, a teacher might even be able to benefit their students by allowing them to occasionally take the reins of a lesson, or a portion of one, and officially instruct their fellow students. There are a variety of ways students may be able to educate one another, and a range of how official it can be. The most basic form is simply giving classmates the opportunity to answer questions from their peers before the teacher does. More formally, the activity for the study phase of a lesson can ask for a description of a language function as if they were explaining it to a lower level student. This can help to put a student into a state of mind where they are actively seeking patterns and comparisons, and discovering ways to explain the function simply to someone else can assist them in internalizing what the teacher has elicited from them. Activate phases can occasionally ask groups to prepare concept lessons, either for just that experience or for them to practice on each other. A higher form of student-student teaching is to officially build teaching opportunities into the curriculum. This can, in fact, help to alleviate some common issues in classes with mixed English ability. Higher level students can be assigned to teach, or assist, their classmates with problem topics, or groups with mixed abilities can prepare lessons on different language functions to teach each other. In the latter example it is important that the topics to not depend on each other to be understood correctly, and it is useful to allow the strongest group to go first in order to show positive examples to the rest. Additionally, it may be possible in institutions that teach multiple levels at once to arrange for higher level classes to give lessons to lower level ones, or to assist teachers in those classes. If one is incorporating one or more of these teaching opportunities into their curriculum, this should be explained to one’s students in the introductory lesson so that they will be prepared for them and have chances to discuss any concerns. An article from Edutopia.org entitled How to Prepare Students to Learn by Teaching2 describes six steps to follow to help students get the most out of the experience: The first is to identify aspects of English the students are having difficulties with, be it one of the active or passive skills, confidence with the language, etc. The second is to arrange the future teaching opportunities, inform the students of them, and take some group time to generate “strategies and activities”2 that they can utilize. This can quite easily fit into the activate portion of a lesson. The third step is to provide ongoing assistance and development by keeping the class instructing-oriented. Asking questions like “What can you use this for once you understand it?” and “What activity would be useful in teaching this to another group?” helps to prepare them for lesson planning, as well as assists in internalizing and streamlining their understanding of a subject. Step four is to provide a lesson template for the students that provides them with the goal, stages, and materials to build from. Step five is the ongoing process of working with the students and guiding their thought processes. Review their material prior to their presentations. Eliciting appropriate choices while minimizing interventions is the ideal approach. The final step is to elicit personal and class reflection after the lessons have been presented, and to debrief about the entire experience of planning and teaching. “Ask your students to think about the teaching process as a learner… [and] about their self-regulation skills and how planning, goal setting, and overall assessment help them carry out a plan and see it through.”2 This step cannot be skipped, as it is vital that the students evaluate the process they went through and internalize the approaches they used to understand what they taught. It is an indisputable fact that the act of teaching is a good way to learn. Tutors and educators regularly gain new insights and understandings, not only from the actual instructing of students but also from the preparation to teach them. The necessity to consider a topic or language function from the point of view of a student, group, or class deepens one’s grasp of it, and can help to foster a greater appreciation of the subject matter. This has been demonstrated to be useful to students as well. A study published in the journal Memory & Cognition “suggests that instilling an expectation to teach may be a simple, inexpensive intervention with the potential to increase learning efficiency…”3 In a subject where real world experience is highly valued yet often a struggle to obtain, helping one’s students prepare to give their own ESL instructions can be a very useful and practical way to help them gain that experience. 1- Lander, J. (2016, December 20). Students as Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.gse.harvard.edu/uk/blog/students-teachers 2- Aguila, E. (2019, May 23). How to Prepare Students to Learn by Teaching. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/how-prepare-students-learn-teaching 3- Watanabe-Crockett, L. (2018, March 14). How Letting Students Teach Can Lead to Their Best Learning Ever. Retrieved from https://www.wabisabilearning.com/blog/letting-students-teach