Teach English in Gangtou Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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Problems for Learners from China by Kenneth Lee Mattson My focus for my summative task will be on the Chinese second language learner(L2) because I have taught a number of almost zero exposure of English beginners to intermediate students this past year who were from mainland China. First of all, I differ from the ESL teachers at my school because as a blond haired blue eyed American—I am a language learner and speak basic to intermediate Mandarin Chinese, which kind of set me apart (between classes I would speak in Mandarin with my Chinese co-workers here in Singapore). So, with that said, not only do I speak a second language, but I also know the difficulties in acquiring a second language—it can be a fun, but a very frustrating experience, especially with Mandarin. Therefore, going into teaching at my school, I knew that I would be teaching many Chinese and Japanese students. And for the Chinese, I also knew that English would be the hardest language for them to learn, because the English writing system and sounds are extremely different than standard Chinese(普通话 putonghua). For my warmer in my first lessons, I will usually introduce myself using both English and Mandarin along with writing my name on the board, which I use it to establish a rapport with my students because when they see me introduce myself in Chinese with the ability to even write in Chinese they are very impressed. But I will let them know that in class we will use 100 percent English for the majority of the classes with some exemptions, like looking up vocabulary. Because sometimes for fun, I will have them tell me what the English word for example “a door or wall” is in their native language—it is one way to check their comprehension and understanding in English when I do not use pictures. I believe it was the New Headway teaching series, which suggested using the students’ L1 language limitedly in the first lesson. So, I will use some Mandarin limitedly in the first lesson. Furthermore, when I teach possessives in English to my Chinese students—I will reference a small Chinese possessive article called de (的) to help bring out the understanding in English. Because it is very difficult for my Chinese students to get a handle on possessives and I’ve found out that by just adding that Chinese definition in relation to the English counterpart—it opened up the mind of my students and sped up the learning and acquisition progress. And at my school, they advertised that students learn faster in my classes, which was true. After a few of my classes, I contacted my friend who is a teacher of English in Shanghai(she is Chinese) and I told her how I taught possessives and and articles to Chinese students in my classrooms and she told me that in China they use the same method to cross the problem of the language barrier and it confirmed to me that I was on the right path as a teacher and I was able to solve common problems with my Chinese students. The other problem area with Chinese students is that many of them have never spoken with a native English person. So they do not know how to really say the words and how they are too open their mouths correctly. Therefore, in my class for the beginners, I will go over the words and have them focus on my mouth and jaw, because it is very hard for them to say very basic words such as western names like John, or Peter and western city names, which as westerners we have been hearing and saying all of our lives. I felt for their frustration, because I was the same way when I first started learning tones in my mandarin studies 4 years ago—it was hard for me to even say “hi” (knee how 你好) or even saying “I” (wall 我) was hard in Chinese. But, after a month in my classes, I would watch my Chinese students change—their jaw muscles learned the new English movements and many of them became English learners. So in closing, I do not think there is an easy way to teach English to Chinese and vice versa because the languages are so different in terms of grammar, tone and the writing system to name a few. I think it takes a lot of perseverance on the learners part to learn these languages and overcome the problems for foreigners outside of the country’s geographic areas of influence. I can try finding more ways in the future as a teacher to ease them into learning with understanding more of their language, but still the best way is immersion and the will power on the student’s part to succeed no matter what.