Teach English in Hekou Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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The best way to learn a skill is to learn by doing. The more you participate in something actively the more you improve. So I believe that the best way to teach English is to give the students as many opportunities as possible to use the language. In a traditional teacher-fronted class, if the teacher talks for half the time in a 60 minute lesson with 10 students, each student gets only 3 minutes to speak. That means the students don’t get enough time to practice and it may lead to loss of concentration and boredom. Does the teacher have to talk that much? The truth is, a lot of what the teacher says can be expressed in other ways. And when students are more involved, they are more motivated and proactive. Combining the training I have received with my teaching experience, there are two effective skills that I'd like to talk about. First, I elicit instead of explain. Sometimes it’s really difficult to explain something very simple. For example, when you try teach a group of words of mammal. How would you describe the differences between rats and mice, goats and sheep? Are you sure that the students can understand what you say? But elicitation can solve the problem in an instant. You can just show them the pictures, or mimic their typical calls or movements. The students would be impressed by your performance and the new words. You can also elicit grammar points. For instance, write ‘He ____ swimming yesterday. (go)’ and ‘I ___ a child ten years ago. (be)’ on board and draw a timeline to teach simple past tense. The other skill that I want to talk about is getting students to ask questions and give feedback to each other. Imagine you are teaching a class with 15 or more students. You can’t interact with every one of them. Then how do you make them to talk? First, pair or group them after the instructions. And then, give them the chance to conduct the activity. Meanwhile, the teacher just walk around observing and assist if necessary, and make sure every student is involved. After the group discussion, you can ask one student from each group to present their idea, and then encourage other groups to comment or ask questions. This not only brings more communication between students, but also makes them to think more. When I started teaching, I felt nervous standing in the front of the classroom. But since I’ve noticed that I should be a promoter but not a controller in the class, I passed the right to speak to students. I only talk when I have to. I’m proud that the students are really active to speak in the class. They can manage the activities themselves, they help each other, and they improvise. No matter what way you use to decrease speaking time when you teach, bear in mind to ask some concept checking questions to make sure the students get the language point or your instructions correctly. From my experience, students are willing to answer some questions to show that they have mastered the new grammar. And then, just see how they would surprise you.