Teach English in Dazhong Nongchang - Yancheng Shi

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Teaching experience at different universities in China may vary. Universities in the more developed cities, like Beijing and Shanghai definitely offer better facilities and teaching equipment to assist students’ learning. The majority of Chinese students will go through the college entrance exam, known as Gaokao. Gaokao score essentially determines the universities that students will be able to attend. Chinese universities are ranked and some are categorized as project 211 and 985, which are more prestigious. Students who are admitted to these universities tend to have higher Gaokao scores and may look for lessons to be more challenging than others. Moreover, premier universities usually have more funds to support teaching. In recent years, China has welcomed international cooperation in higher education. Some universities in China formed partnerships with a number of world’s top universities. The joint institutes such as the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute aim to cultivate future leaders of innovation and to enlarge their global perspective. Because of the Chinese-foreign cooperation in running the institutes, teaching English in these universities are extremely important. Before I took the EFL course, I was working as an academic advisor in a U.S. and China collaborative Institute. Students in the institute study the same core courses as the students in the university of United States. All the courses are taught in English. Teaching in the joint-institute has its own uniqueness. Students take extensive trainings to improve their English skills in the first year of the study, so English is the key to the success in other courses. However, because students come from different high schools of different regions, their English levels can vary widely. For example, students from Beijing usually excel in all English skills, whereas students from Chengdu, the capital city of southwest province Sichuan has lower English level, particularly with low speaking level. These results were revealed after the placement test was given. As a matter of fact, English teachers expect that the students may have varied English levels. In order to find out what skills students need to improve and teach more effectively, the director of English department used the Cambridge English Placement Test to evaluate students’ English levels. When the test results were available, the director would divide students into different groups based on several factors. For instance, a class should have a balanced number of female students and male students. Also, the region where the students came from, the Gaokao English score and the placement result would be taken into account. The institute accepts two hundred students each year. To give equal and full attention to each student, the director would arrange 10 sections, each with twenty to twenty-five students, including students who need to retake the course. Then each teacher will be assigned to take two sections. Every semester I was required to observe classes. The class observations allowed me to see how the lessons were organized and taught and whether interactions were being effective. There was an English teacher who always received the highest teaching evaluation score at the end of the semester. Students often came to my office to discuss what they found interesting or what was concerning with a class. When they shared their opinion about that English teacher, the comments were almost positive. When I observed the teacher’s class, I noticed the rapport between students and him was very good. I think the teacher worked very well with a few strategies. The teacher would come into the classroom 10 minutes in advance, write on the board and greet students before the class started. He would smile a lot and make jokes in the class, at the same time he was strict. He clearly made his rule of discipline with students. For example, all the students were required to talk in English in the class. If someone was caught to speak Chinese for no reason, the teacher would have a small talk with the student after class. The teacher always provided clear instructions and demonstrations before giving an activity and always tried to involve every student in the discussions. Teaching at such joint-institute in China requires teachers not only to teach the contents like grammar or pronunciation but also create an environment that is encouraging and friendly to make students feel comfortable and confident to finish their studies by using English.