Teach English in MashAn Zhen - Jingzhou Shi

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As someone who has been to school in the USA and China, I’ve experienced the difference between student motivation in both countries. From this experienced I’ve drawn conclusions of how to better motivate students in the classroom. In the U.S. students are quite vocal about their thoughts and ideas at a young age, teachers encourage classroom discussions, and in higher grade levels teachers often encourage students to “prove them wrong”. If a student has a thought or idea that differs from the teachers, they are mostly encouraged to seek the truth, and respond to the teacher. This is often a motivation for students to put time into information research and challenge previous ideas. This can bring about creativity in the classroom. In Chinese schools, motivation is given in a different way. Most of the time, teaching material is fixed by the school’s curriculum. Teachers project the idea that the information taught is absolutely correct. Most things in class have a “correct answer”. There is also motivation that stems from the sense of perfection. To know certain answers are correct and by memorizing them, students have a sense of accomplishment. These two types of motivation are both needed within a second language learning environment. When it comes to expressing an idea and being able to create something new, students need a foundation upon which to build. Foundations are built upon solid knowlege, including certain grammar points, correct spelling, correct punctuation and so on. As a student in the U.S. I was always challenged and motivated to create and try new things, but in my elementry years, none of the teachers focused on the basic skills that I should have mastered. Some teachers did not enjoy math themselves, and so I fell behind on a year of math class, other teachers accepted my lack of basic skills and just simply prepared my for certain examinations, without the actuall knowledge of the content. Although I had motivation to be artisic and creative, lacking the basic skills caused me to become very stressed after beggining high school, and later on trying to excell on college entrance examinations. In Chinese schools I was a second language speaker studying with Chinese students in their own native language. In college, I noticed a lack of motivation because there was the common asumption of students that college grades did not matter, mostly it was about the college you attended, and the friends made during college years. Most students were tired out from years of over motivation from college entrance exam preparations. Their knowlege of basics were very solid, but no one had energy to pursue, overachieve and be creative. Motivation begins from the "engage" portion of a class with intrinsic motivation. These factors would include making students fascinated with the target language through its relevance to life and the world, and a sense of accomplishment and achievement if they learned the language. Many people learn new things from a sense of "calling" or attaction to the field of study. Students in my class would likely be expressing to others that the English language intrests them, learning a new language opened doors for them, that they felt good when they succeeded in my course. Student's would also have motivation from extrinsic motivators, some might have motivation from parents, or motivation to achieve certain grades, but I would make sure that I could present myself as a roll model to perfecting their studies. I would also try to include motivation other than just achieving a certain grade in class, instead guiding them to see the advantages of learning certain knowledge through exams and tests. To understand motivation at a deeper level, there also has to be basic knowledge of different learning styles. Deep learners are those who respond well to the challenge of mastering and completeing difficult subjects. Strategic learners are motivated by reward, feeling the need to recieve certain rewards before engaging deeply in a subject. Surface learners are likely motivated by the desire to avoid failure, they will do what is needed, but will not go beyond minimum requirements. To motivate students of different levels and learning styles, there are certain strategies. First of all, becoming a role model for student interest by delivering the information and presentaitons with enthuasim and energy. Making the course personalized by showing my own interest in course material. Getting to know my students will allow me to tailor my instruction to student's specific needs. I will make sure to display an interest in my student's own interests, and show my faith in their abilities. Using examples often will create a big picture for my students to see concepts and techniques and how they are used before delving deeper into each subject. Using a variety of active teaching activities, many of which allowing the students to learn and participate and use their knowledge to engage in the material. Teaching by discovery is a way to allow students to master and see for themselves, also through cooperative learning activities. Cooperating with others provides positive social pressures which are on a whole usually motivating for students to perform better in class. Setting realistic goals for students and helping students set their own goals is an important part of a teachers role. Teachers should help students plan out their own learning process by designing assignments that are apporpriately challenging for the student. As an American student in China, this aspect of the culture often confused me. Teachers would design assignments and focus on the students who seemed to have a good understanding of the material, and sometimes, due to my language restrictions, I would feel left behind because the teacher did not seem to mind if I understood the material fully. Be free with praise and constructive with criticism. This is something that I have personal experience with studying in different countries. In Asian culture, often there was not enough constructive praise, and an over focus on criticism. This is part of a cultural misunderstanding, that caused me as a student to be very distraught. It was hard for me to see that teachers were criticising because they wanted me to improve, not because they wanted to make me feel bad. As a teacher myself, I will always focus on a maintianing a balance between encouragement and constructive criticism. In conclusion, I believe that motivation is the biggest factor in learning, and expecially language learning. A motivating and active teacher can change the way students think of a particular subject. They can make learning knowlege fabulous and magical. Motivation stems from teaching methods, understanding of learning styles, the teacher's own experiences, and overal enthuasim and care that the teacher expresses to students. I want to use my own experience between cultures, to teach in a manner that all students will love and enjoy the content of the class!