Teach English in Yinzu Zhen - Huangshi Shi

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Teaching English as a Foreign Language is both a rewarding and a challenging experience. Students can come to the classroom from many different backgrounds and can also have very different motivations for being there. They probably will have different personalities and possibly different cultural norms. Some may be overly talkative, while others are shy and quiet. Although every teacher has an ideal class size in mind and would like to have all their students speaking English at the same level of proficiency, many times circumstances do not allow the ideal to be the reality. As the teacher, it is important to engage all the students in the English as a Second Language (ESL) lesson despite the challenges that may arise. The ESL teacher can overcome many of these challenges by establishing a good rapport on the first day of class, coming up with good warming exercises for the beginning of each class day, and accommodating the different levels of English proficiency within the class. To begin, it is very important that on the first day of class the ESL teacher establishes a good rapport with the students and allows the students to establish a good rapport among themselves. This can prevent many problems from occurring in this first places, as it is very important that the students feel comfortable and confident in communicating with each other and with the teacher. For this reason, it is best that the teacher does not use a lesson from the course book to begin class on the first day. Instead, it is better for the teacher to find out about the students, particularly what English level each individual in the class is proficient in and the needs and aspirations of the students in the class. The teacher may wish to find out this information from a questionnaire or survey, or the teacher may discover this information by playing an interactive game with the students. An example of a fun and interactive game that an ESL teacher can play is the “pass the ball game.” In this game, the teacher tosses a ball to one of the students and asks the student a question. After the student answers the question, he or she tosses the ball to another student as asks that student a question. It is a good idea for the teacher to participate as well so that the students can learn both about each other as well as their teacher. Another potentially fun game for the first day of class is a game called “Tell us about” which is a board game from a communicative activities book called Keep Talking. If the teacher is teaching a business English class, he or she may wish to conduct a needs analysis survey. No matter what activity the teacher chooses to do on the first day of class, the overall goal of the day should be to establish rapport among all the members of the classroom and for the teacher to discover valuable information that will make lesson-planning easier for the future classes. Secondly, it is very helpful for the teacher to begin each class day with an interactive warmer exercise that helps students transition into a mindset of speaking and learning English. This will help to motivate students and increase their level of participation in the class. It can also be helpful as a quick refresher or review of previously learned material. For example, a teacher may want to review vocabulary with a game of hangman or Pictionary. Perhaps a teacher may want to start out the class with reciting tongue twisters to help the students with pronunciation. Memory games can also be a good warmer exercise. An example of a memory game could be one student starts out by saying, “Yesterday, I went for a run.” The next student would then say “Yesterday, I went for a run and played soccer.” The students would continue in this way in order that they all would get a chance to practice speaking English. It is important that the ESL teacher keep warmer games fun but short so that they don’t cut too much into the lesson. The best warmers can also be used to help launch students into the lesson. If the teacher were to immediately begin the lesson without a warmer, the students may be less engaged and less interested to learn new material. A warmer is a great way to help orient a student to the English classroom and get everyone involved in speaking and learning English. Another problem that may arise in the ESL classroom is varying levels within the same class; it is helpful for the teacher to have some knowledge and tools for accommodating different levels within the same ESL class. There are many different approaches that the teacher may choose to take when trying to accommodate a class of varying levels. The teacher may wish to split the class into two groups with stronger members in one group and weaker members in the other group and use different class materials with each group that are tailored to their levels. This may prove to be hard for the teacher to juggle, as it would require more prep time, and the teacher’s attention would be divided between the two groups. Another course the teacher may choose to take is using the same material for the entire class, but requiring different tasks from the students. In this case, the stronger students might be assigned longer and more complicated tasks than the weaker students. Another option is for the teacher to pair stronger students with weaker ones. However, it would be important for the teacher to make sure that the stronger students don’t end up doing all the work. Finally, it is always an option for the teacher to do nothing. In this approach, all the students would be studying and learning the same material regardless of level.