Teach English in Cha'ersen Zhen - Xing'an Meng — Hinggan

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“Our planet is beautifully intricate, brimming over with enigmas to be solved and riddles to be unraveled.” -Gerald Durrell, A Practical Guide For The Amateur Naturalist As a summer camp teacher, a camping instructor, and a naturalist at heart, I believe, that outdoor activities can be a powerful tool for teaching English. Both adults and children feel more relaxed, motivated, and open to receive new information when engaged in outdoor activities. Active participation in outdoor games can improve memorization, one of the basic components of language learning, by exercising all five senses (visual, auditory, olfactory, kinesthetic, and tactile) and creating long-lasting associations. Walk to a school garden or a local park is a simple, yet diverse and effective way to enhance productive vocabulary, practice informal language and improve its fluency. A teacher and students can discuss local flora and fauna, ongoing weather conditions, features of a current season. The teacher can ask the students to collect interesting items, present and describe them to the classmates using adjectives. Role-play in the park could be another effective task to practice language. Students can pretend to be naturalist, discuss and compare ‘discovered artifacts’ by asking questions and using comparisons. Many active games can be effectively performed in a park or a school facility: I Spy can help students to build vocabulary, Treasure Map – to understand directions and improve reading skills, Cloud-spotting is a great way to relax, imagine, and practice English. Reading outside is a quiet and effective way to learn English, and improve reading comprehension. All students can have the same book and take turns in reading paragraphs aloud, or it can be a free reading activity, where students bring their favorite books, read in silence until asked by a teacher to read a paragraph from the book to the group. Reading activates visual memory and able to improve language accuracy and fluency. Grow-a-garden is a great activity to learn new vocabulary and improve language fluency. A teacher and students can discuss, what should they plant and why: will the plant grow in the local climate, is it edible, how long will it take for the plant to grow, how often it needs to be watered, etc.? Students can bring their seeds and share with the class, why this plant should be planted in the garden. Grow-a-garden is a long-time project and requires dedication and continuous maintenance. Each student will pick a plant to curate, observe the growth, take notes, and share the progress with the classmates. Picnic. This outdoor activity will help students to expand on the vocabulary and practice language functions. A teacher can ask students to bring dishes native to their own culture, and share the recipes with their classmates. During the lunch, the teacher will ask students to use modals (could, may, would, etc.) Edible-Inedible is a great game to learn and play on the picnic. Students and a teacher stand in a circle and throw a ball to each other while calling items. A student, who catches the ball, has to identify the item as edible or inedible, call another item, and pass the ball to the next student. A cat – inedible, a cucumber- edible, dirt – inedible, a rock made of chocolate (is a tricky one) - edible, etc. Field trip to the zoo, botanical gardens, arboretums. Students get exposed to a variety of animal and plant life, animal behaviors and sounds; shapes, colors, and fragrance of plants. This activity will help students to learn new vocabulary. A teacher can discuss with students flora and fauna, native to their countries. Students can observe plants and animals, mime, describe and compare them to one another, practicing the use of nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Role-play in the zoo is a fun way to learn. While one student will pretend to be a zookeeper, the rest of the students-visitors. The zookeeper will choose an animal, or plant, and share the knowledge about it with the 'group of visitors' (students can prepare for the zookeeper role in advance). Visitors will ask a zookeeper questions about the life form presented (can it fly? what time of the year it blooms? what sound it makes? Is it dangerous, poisonous? etc.). Students will take turns to be zookeepers. Outdoor sports. Language, combined with sporting games, will encourage students to utilize vocabulary, especially verbs, necessary for collaboration with their team and for competing against the opposite one. Students will have to put in practice their productive vocabulary, related to the game, learn new words from teammates and a teacher, practice language functions. Camping and hiking. This outdoor activity has to be planned in detail, and the preparation process can be an exciting learning process itself. Students can discuss what equipment to take, what is it used for, why is it necessary for survival in the wilderness, and what could happen if left at home. On the trip, the group can observe nature, learn new vocabulary, work as a team, and practice language functions by engaging in teamwork: making a campfire, pitching a tent, preparing food. On the streets of the city, language can also be learned through a wide range of activities. Students can take part in recycling events, and learn language, by discussing environmental issues; participate in street fairs, and learn about local arts and crafts; follow maps and directions to practice reading comprehension; draw with chalks on a pavement and describe the artwork to classmates; engage in Role-plays, and practice language functions; play I Spy game using objects of urban habitat to expand vocabulary. World outside the school walls supplies learners with the abundance of real objects, sounds, and conditions to enhance and activate productive vocabulary, whereas outdoor activities can help a teacher to establish rapport with students and between them, improve creativity and engagement among the group, improve receptive and productive skills, practice language functions, and refine language fluency. The fusion of language learning and outdoor activities breaks up boring routine, puts the language into a practical context, make lessons intriguing and surprisingly effective.