Teach English in YuanzhuAng Zhen - Nantong Shi

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While the bulk of English teaching will generally take place in the controlled environment of the classroom, there are many teaching opportunities outside of the classroom that can have a major impact on student language learning. For example, integrating outdoor activities into the curriculum can improve student memorization through a unique experience, can boost student and teacher moods with exposure to nature, and often creates a less stressful environment for learning. In this paper, we will discuss some ideas for ways to incorporate outdoor activities into language learning and their benefits. When brainstorming outdoor activities, the first that comes to mind is sports and physical exercise, especially if the students have a personal interest in these activities outside of language learning. Different sports each have their own specific terminology which can enlarge student vocabulary. Additionally, more advanced vocabulary to describe movements, body parts and rules can be incorporated into the lesson. If students have never played the sport before, the language terms will more likely be absorbed while students are also learning the sport itself. Students who already know how to play the sport, can “coach” other students which allows both sets of students to practice giving and understanding directions or orders. This process will increase student-student talk time and team building – allowing students to interact more and become more comfortable with their peers. The second category of outdoor activities is games. This activity mirrors a lot of what was discussed in the previous paragraph. Like sports, games will increase student talk time and provide team building opportunities. Additionally, game specific vocabulary and rules can also be emphasized in the curriculum. While games are often incorporated in the classroom setting as well, playing them outdoors provides the added benefits of learning in a unique environment, sufficient space for games requiring larger movements, and the calming effects of fresh air. While sports contain similar elements, games tend to be heavier in logic and strategy related concepts. Games are also more accessible to a wider variety of students, allowing those that do not have physical aptitude or strength to more easily contribute to the game. Other outdoor activities include going to local cultural and sporting events. Attending an event as a class is a great way to have students share a group experience that can then be referenced later in class. In the class before the event, the students can practice vocabulary related to the schedule of the event and what they predict will happen. For instance, if the event is an outdoor concert, vocabulary related to the artists, type of music, and expectations can be discussed in the future tense. Participating in a cultural event like a holiday festival can provide opportunities to discuss customs and history of the community. Events involving food, such as picnics, allow students to learn vocabulary of new foods and ingredients, as well as learn about fellow students’ likes and dislikes. Finally, after the event, a class can be devoted to discussing what happened and students’ impressions using the past tense. Finally, basic outdoor activities like a long walk around the school or city block are simple ways to augment English learning. For instance, students can practice giving directions for walking to a local landmark. The history of the landmark can then be discussed in order to practice past tense, increase vocabulary and provide cultural context to students. Additionally, in locations where the native language is English, students can ask local citizens directions to a landmark to practice asking questions and conversation. During the walk, students can discuss the weather and practice future tense by making weather predictions based on current observations. Playing a simple game like “eye spy” during the walk increases student talk time and allows them a great way to practice describing items and asking questions. In short, exploring ways to get the students outdoors during lessons can provide the same amount of learning as the classroom environment, but with the added benefit of the calming effects of nature and a unique, exciting learning experience.