Teach English in Donghuji Zhen - Huai'an Shi

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Throughout high school and college, my favorite subjects were Chinese and Spanish. While some would say this is because of a “knack for languages,” I would argue it is because I had several amazing and motivating teachers. In seventh grade I had my first Spanish class with an exuberant lady named Ms.Lindes. Prior to the course I had no exposure to Spanish, and was scared it was going to be difficult and weird. As a 12 year old, I had no personal motivation to learn the language. But I gained motivation overtime because Ms.Lindes made my 7th period Spanish something I looked forward to everyday. Ms.Lindes’ had a loud voice, tussled dirty blonde hair and a raspy Spanish accent. She constantly walked around the room holding some picture or sign for us. In seventh grade, I was not weighing out how Spanish would improve my career prospects, nor would I have listened if someone had lectured me on the usefulness of foreign language. I simply wanted to impress Ms.Lindes and do well in the subject. Four years later, I had an international baccalaureate (IB) teacher named Ms.Gerhold who was equally impactful. Through creative games and activities, Ms.Gerhold made us forget we were learning. For example, I will never forget when one day she kept shouting from her desk. Eventually the class figured out she was teaching us the vocabulary word, “loud.” And after a unit on requests and questions, she took us to a local Mexican restaurant to practice ordering food. However, I did not always have amazing teachers. In between my years with Ms.Lindes and Ms.Gerhold, I had a teacher who constantly gave us work with no explanation. She was so uninspiring I have no idea what her name was, nor do I remember a single lesson that she taught. All I remember was being annoyed that my friends and I were receiving homework that was over our heads with no explanation. Thankfully I switched schools midyear to rediscover my love for Spanish, but my 15-year-old brother has not been so lucky. In middle school he loved Chinese because of an amazing teacher, but his high school teacher has taken the joy out of the language. After witnessing the class myself, I found that my brother’s Chinese teacher approaches Chinese as a difficult task but possibly rewarding task with guaranteed struggles. He is negative and his attitude demotivates the students. In response, according to my brother, there is little respect for the teacher and most students cheat to pass the class. My brother is planning to drop Chinese next year to take a different elective. While this is an extreme example, it illustrates that a teacher’s attitude, mannerism and lessons directly affect a student’s motivation to learn a language. According to unit one of this TEFL course, a good teacher is motivating because they are entertaining, and on the other hand a dreary teacher can deflate one’s motivation. Teachers have a lot of power in their hands. A good teacher means someone chooses to major in the language, move to a new country or meet a best friend from a different culture. A bad teacher means you will likely hear someone say: “I learned Spanish in high school. I can understand a little, but all I can say is agua, taco, burrito and hola” (….it is always a sad story to hear). Knowing I have this kind of power determines how I will approach teaching English to upper-elementary students in Zheng Zhou, China. I must realize that in the same way Ms.Lindes motivated me, my sheet presence can motivate my students. I should be aware of simple things like how often I smile, walk around the classroom or hand out criticism. With many stickers and a loving but firm voice I hope to produce a classroom environment where students are eager to participate. Students in China are stressed, and even elementary students have pressure from their parents to excel in English. As a teacher, I want to acknowledge their work ethic but also take pressure off of them. I want them to look back at my classroom the same way I looked back on Ms.Lindes and Ms.Gerhold’s classrooms. My teachers made language an applicable game not a school chore. I hope to do the same for my future students.