Teach English in Taipingqiao Zhen - Huanggang Shi

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I am a university professor. We have a lot of international students that are not native English speakers. They are admitted to the University with a TOEFL score of at least 90-100 and minimum scores of 20 in each section. I teach undergraduate and graduate science classes. My students are generally not required to speak except to ask or answer questions. However reading, writing, listening, and speaking are all integral to learning the material. As I am teaching science much of the technical language is new to both native and non-native English speakers. I learned early to slow my pace and speak clearly. And pictures are everything. These students are very smart, they just have problems with English. Most of the English errors I witnessed would manifest in their written assignments and tests: verb tenses and subject-verb agreement, sentence structure, and vocabulary. And for the speaking errors, pronunciation and enunciation errors were common. As I don’t teach an English or an EFL class, there wasn’t much I could do but offer simple correction strategies. Over the years I have developed some simple strategies to correct the English mistakes that I hope helped the students. For verb tenses, continuous and perfect tenses are most often the problem. If possible, I correct them into a simple tense. For example, ‘I would often fly’ becomes ‘I often flew’. And while the simple tenses lack some of the subtle meaning of the more complex tenses, the changes would help make both the students and my comprehension easier. Subject-verb agreement would normally call for a simple comment that includes both the incorrect and correct tenses ‘I work, he/she/its works’ and the like. The most common sentence structure problem I see is the omission of articles. I’ve learned that some languages do not have articles so this is a difficult point for students that speak those languages to learn. All I can do in these situations is insert the missing article. Vocabulary problems are divided into two categories, general English and science vocabulary. If I could decipher what was being said, English errors were corrected. On the other hand the science vocabulary was usually part of the assignment and would be graded. Now I’m skipping over spelling on purpose. English is not easy to spell. I correct errors and recommend what I do: look up the correct spelling of words in the dictionary. For pronunciation problems, I will pronounce the word properly. Then I will remind them if they look up the word on the internet, all of the online dictionaries now have an audio feature: click on the little speaker icon and the student can hear the proper pronunciation. I use this feature myself for unusual words I have never seen before. Enunciation problems are also one of two types, omitting syllables (medcine for medicine) or omitting the final consonant. (thirteen without the n sounds like thirty). Aside from me pronouncing the word correctly and listening to it on the internet, I also recommend karaoke. Don’t laugh. When we sing we emphasize every syllable and every sound. Just think of Ozzy Osbourne. I can’t understand a word the man says, but his singing is clear as day. Teaching science to non-native English speakers has added a level of complexity to my skills. Most international students really want to succeed and will work hard to make themselves understood. Others don’t do well and end up leaving school. I can’t suggest students study EFL, which is the job of the advisors. However I hope I am able to help those that take my classes.