Teach English in BinjiAng Zhen - Taizhou Shi

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English language has over the ages evolved to become the ‘crème de la crème’ of all the official languages written and spoken on this planet. English language is mostly the preferred language when there is any engagement of multi-national corporations , competitions organized by various sporting bodies such as “ Fideration Internationale de Footbal Association” FIFA, “International Amateur Athletic Federation”, IAAF, world organisations such as “International Monetary Fund”, United Nations and what have you. Tourists, traders, students and businessmen who travel to other countries for obvious reasons have resorted to speaking English as the means of communication when their native languages differ. Non-English speaking countries are also increasingly facilitating a user-friendly environment with major landmarks, locations and services translated in English to further integrate foreigners. As a result, there has been an unwavering demand for English teachers across the length and breadth of the globe. China is one of if not the best destination for ‘English as a Second Language’ teachers. The number of ESL teachers in China as at 2019 estimates by a credible research institution in Tsinghua University reports a quadrupled increase since the year 2006. It is the policy of the Chinese government to make China a bilingual country. There are numerous teachers from several countries that teach English to various learners especially kindergarten and primary school students in China. A major challenge has been persistent for some time now since there are huge overlapping interests of teachers from various backgrounds with respect to English speaking and writing. Although China has adopted ‘American English’ as its preferred option for teaching English, only a few of teachers are Native Americans or Canadians. Accents differ even among Native speakers and more so Non-native English speakers. I was employed by an English training centre in one of the cities in Shandong Province, China. The former teacher was a Russian and she taught the kids with a borrowed American accent although the course books and materials she used though were in British English. Coming in as a new teacher with a British English background, it took a short while for me to adjust but the elephant in the room was that, the school had been switching back and forth between course books written in American English to the ones written in British English. The school had been doing this just to suit their foreign teacher’s demands and preferences. The young learners had a tough time coping with these inconsistencies and rampant changes of course materials recommended by every new teacher. I had to restructure the whole language syllables to suit the kids and urged the administrators of the school to be consistent with the choice of teaching materials irrespective of the teacher they hire. Some of the pupils had rhotic accents whiles others spoke with non-rhotic accents. Spelling of words was mixed up due to the different course books used. More than half of the English language training schools in China are very unprofessional and have so many unethical behaviours. It dawns on me that these training centres are just being established as a quicker and easier way of making enormous profits by just exploiting parents who are very ignorant and are bent on enrolling their wards in any training school they find without thorough investigations in the affairs of the school. Most of these schools are heavily under-resourced but still charge outrageous fees. They often advertise their school with images of foreign teachers they do not even have. They drill their students to learn by rote and recite English poems and rhyming songs just to impress the kids’ parents. The government authorities recently clamped down on such institutions but unfortunately, a lot of these training schools are still in operation exploiting parents. Another major challenge for learners in China is the inability of students to imitate sound English speakers. Only about fifteen per cent of China’s population can speak fluent English and even if they do, they speak with a rather absurd accent commonly referred to as ‘chinglish’. English teachers at public schools in china barely communicate with their students in English likewise their parents at home. As a result, young learners’ only hope of learning English the proper way is by enrolling in English training centres which are only allowed to operate during weekends due to government policy. Children therefore have less time practising the language they have acquired at the training schools. Innovative measures I took to help my students included creating group chats on a messaging app, wechat, so I could teach online and have more time with the students. I gave them several reading assignments and educative videos to help boost the time they spent studying English and to serve as supplements for the less classes time. I downloaded several animated movies and kids’ favourite bed time stories such as ‘Marsha and the Bear, Despicable Me, The Smurfs and Toy Story for the kids to watch at home. I have seen tremendous improvements in my students’ usage of language due to their constant engagement in these activities. In short, challenges faced at my school are dwindling at a faster rate; parents and teachers alike have committed to helping the students to become bilingual. It gives me so much joy to see my students arguing over who is the stronger between Batman and Superman in English.