Teach English in Zhurihe Zhen - Xilinguole Meng — Xilin Gol

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When I first began teaching, I came to the realization that some of the content in textbooks I initially used did not engage my students enough; they found the reading and exercises futile and redundant. I am a current English teaching assistant in France, and whenever I find that my students are fixated on memorizing the overwhelming amount of terms straight from their textbooks and see their discouragement by their inability to retain each and every term, I like to tell my students, “No one ever became fluent from a textbook.” Yet, that is not to say that the textbook is not a fundamental tool to be used for the beginning stages of foreign language education. Thus, a teacher should be particularly careful when choosing a textbook for his or her students. There are a plethora of ESL/TEFL textbooks in the market for teachers to choose from–it would be rather difficult to arrive at the perfect text that would encompass the academic needs of every student in the classroom. As educators we must ask ourselves: what makes the content of one textbook more suitable and worthwhile for my students than that of another? To take this question, I think that we have to begin by considering and evaluating the information on how students learn a language additional to that of their native tongues. It is important to acknowledge that a language learner will not achieve mastery of their target language until s/he communicates with speakers of the language: the textbook is not the ultimate be-all-end-all of the acquisition of learning a foreign language, however, a fruitful and conducive textbook is an excellent way for a student to begin feeling comfortable and remain interested when undertaking a foreign language. It is evident that cognitive and linguistic functions are intertwined in the brain, insofar that it is not possible to retain the universal rules of language and syntax until acquiring a grasp of how to actively utilize them in everyday language (Brown, 29). Language teachers must therefore also focus on the kind of conditions that are most favorable for their students when they are acquiring a second language and how such learners undertake this. A teacher can create a classroom environment more personable for students by considering what motivates or discourages the student when acquiring a second language – this, I find, applies to all age groups. A major point to consider is contact with attitudes and stereotypes toward the culture(s) that speak the target language: some cultural stereotypes may intimidate or overwhelm the student(s) if they have the impression that they will never perfectly assimilate into this second culture or reach the level of fluency that native speakers possess. Be that as it may, a positive atmosphere, coupled with stimulation and openness for the other language and culture may increase the learner’s motivation to continue learning the target language. Thus, it can be within a language educator’s best interest to attempt to briefly assess and empathize with their students’ preconceived notions they have attached to the language and culture, as well as any prior knowledge and attitudes before beginning to cover the initial steps of language learning. When a student embarks on his or her journey to acquire a foreign language, teachers must make an effort to further understand the students’ objective in learning their target language. A student’s desire to learn a second language may stem from a large array of motivations: perhaps one may wish to take on a foreign language because of genuine interest in learning about a new and unfamiliar language and culture to them; perhaps one has made contact with a certain stereotype that has sparked their curiosity. Perhaps a student may view a new language as a tool that will give them access to integrate with a wider and more global audience; more ambitious language learners, I have come to find, continue to polish their grasp of a second language for reasons such as postgraduate academia and/or employment opportunities in other countries, in order for them to emote their ideas with populations of individuals who speak their target language. In addition to being able to mingle with people on a more global scale, they will also obtain the ability to exchange and listen to the ideas of these people and their populations. The learner will then be able to ruminate and compare their own values and, consequently, perceive certain views and concepts in a way that is new to them. As a language mentor myself, I think it is of utmost importance to motivate the student. Although it may seem strenuous at first glance, I believe that it is the responsibility of the teacher to make active efforts to detect what truly motivates their students and to encourage them to acquire a second language for his or her own reasons, because such reasons are the most poignant and prolific. After a teacher has discovered the reasons that a student has decided to study a second language, it is then important to analyze how such students can learn the language. Therefore, in addition to textbooks, I believe that it is favorable for a school to arrange for cultural outings and class trips, plays, films, cooking classes, museums, and even visits to the country that speaks the target language. The opportunity to mingle and keep in touch with people who speak the target language is also beneficial, whether by means of social media or being pen pals. The intent is for the students to be everyday learners of the world: a language learner should see that the language is, indeed, alive and well. Their expectations for exploration, experimentation, and learning will be met by these connections to the community of their target language. To conclude, a new language is a worthwhile and empowering process and skill for students, but it is up to the teacher to hone this skill. To most productively do so, a teacher must be wary of the intellectual process that students undergo when acquiring a foreign language. A teacher should also stay well-read on the most up-to-date methodologies while also remaining spontaneous. Surely, there is no “perfect” textbook that can sufficiently encompass every single student and teacher’s academic needs. Although, if the right textbook is introduced in class, along with spontaneous and interactive opportunities to use the language firsthand, it can leave a great and more motivated impression on the students.