Teach English in ShAji Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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It is necessary to take into account many cultural factors for effective teaching: in order to arouse interest in the students each time and to not offend anyone or cause any other negative emotion. If there are people from warring countries or nations in a group, we need to make sure that they get along well or at least are neutral to each other. When the atmosphere in the classroom is warm and friendly, multicultural environment make students more culturally aware, which is very good in today’s globalized world. Possible cultural problems I can divide into the following categories: - based on the characteristics of the native language of the students; - based on traditions and features of the behavior of people of a given nationality; - religious issues; - the difference in the meaning of gestures, colors, numbers and various symbols in different cultures. 1. The problems that are based on the characteristics of the students’ native language. In some languages (Spanish, Russian, Turkish, etc.), pronunciation and spelling are the same, so students may have difficulties, because in English the graphophonemic rules are irregular. Some English sounds may not exist in the students ’native language and may be difficult to pronounce. Therefore, it’s better to familiarize novice students with all the sounds, figure out how to pronounce them correctly and practice. Direct translation often leads to mistakes. Therefore, it is necessary to study not only grammar and single words, but also whole phrases. Particular attention should be paid to studying the alphabet and writing with students from countries where the non-Latin alphabet or non-alphabetical writing system is used. In Russia, Ukraine and a number of countries, Cyrillic alphabet is used. In the Arab countries and Iran, there is a written language that conveys mainly consonant sounds, and the reader adds vowels based on context. Also Arabs and Iranians write from right to left. In Japan and China, hieroglyphs are used, in Korea - phonetic symbols, which are grouped in hieroglyphs of 2, 3 or 4 elements. Israel, Greece, Armenia, Georgia, Thailand and many other countries and regions use their own unique alphabets. Different nations may have different problems learning English. But the solution is always the same – a clear and understandable explanation and practice. 2. The problems that are associated with the traditions and features of the behavior of a given nation. Just like people, every nation has its own character. For example, the Japanese are usually quite shy. In the classroom, Japanese students concentrate on reading, writing, and learning grammar. When it comes to speaking, Japanese students may get nervous and not say anything, afraid to make a mistake. Therefore, a good warm-up stage is important, and we must show that errors are not critical, the main thing is to start talking. I think the content of the lesson should be focused on the students and their culture. For example, if the theme of the lesson is “food”, it seems to me that it is not correct with Chinese or Japanese students to study only the names of western dishes, such as a “sandwich” or “steak”. We also need to add the English names of their own dishes and products. It’s important to maintain a balance in the study of concepts from the students’ country's culture and the culture of English-speaking countries. A cross-cultural approach to English language teaching is more useful and tolerant. 3. Religious issues. Some students may wear religious clothing. Muslim girls can wear a hijab, Hindus can wear a turban. It’s necessary to treat this with understanding and cultivate religious tolerance in students. Sometimes it's better to avoid learning some words in the classroom due to religious reasons. For example, it is better to not add words “pork”, “bacon” when teaching Muslim and “beef” when teaching Hindu students, because those products are forbidden by their religions. Traditionally girls study separately from boys in Islamic culture, so Muslim girls may avoid interacting with boys. Stereotypes can also be a big problem. Muslims can be associated with radicalism and terrorism. Therefore, from the first days it is necessary to create an atmosphere of trust and benevolence so the students become friends, regardless of what countries they are from. 4. The problems that may appear due to differences in the meaning of gestures, colors, numbers and various symbols in different cultures. We need to take into account the meaning of gestures, colors, numbers, etc. Not all of them have the same meaning all over the world. The okay gesture for Turks, Brazilians and Mexicans can be offensive. A thumbs up gesture, which basically means “good”, “great”, in Thailand, Iran, Afghanistan and Greece has a negative connotation. An alluring index finger gesture is inappropriate for Filipinos; it can humiliate them. We have to be careful about colors. In China, India and Japan, white is the color of mourning. I work in early education center in China and once I made animal headbands for a lesson using a white ribbon. Then the Chinese local teachers saw them, they were surprised and explained the meaning of white color in China. Therefore, I had to change the white ribbons, and I chose the red color - the best color in the understanding of the Chinese, the color of happiness. The numbers and their meaning are important too. Everyone knows about the bad numbers 13 and 666. But in China the number 6 is considered good regardless how many times would it be repeated. “4” is associated with death in China, just like in Japan. In Italy, the number 17 has a negative connotation. And in Russia people don’t like the number 40, because on the 40th day the deceased’s wake is held. Cultural and religious differences without a doubt can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. But if we adopt the culture and traditions of people around us and create a friendly atmosphere in the classroom, the cultural differences will only enrich everyone mentally and even make the lessons more interesting.