Teach English in ZhongzhuAng Zhen - Yancheng Shi

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Teaching large groups of students can be challenging in any kind of environment and cultural background as it is difficult to get all the students involved and to pay attention to all of them. In this essay, I will provide a closer insight into the challenges of teaching big groups of students in public schools in China. In general, there are several recommended techniques that make teaching big groups easier and more enjoyable, such as choral repetition – everyone has to speak; or worksheets – every student is involved and can benefit from the class. Is is nearly impossible to pay attention closely to every student in the classroom. Dividing the students into teams is a great technique (if they are children, they love to compete). For example, each team can get a star for every right answer or for doing well in the classroom activities. At the end of the class, the stars are counted to see which team is the winner. To give the students a little bit of individual attention, it is advisable to walk around the classroom and monitor group activities to check that everyone understands. If the students are little children, the teacher can give them high-fives as a reward for answering correctly. Appointing group leaders has turned out to be a big success in the public schools in China. They can help to keep control of the group, and, what makes the situation even better, they even enjoy helping, as having a special role makes them feel important and appreciated. However, one of the biggest difficulties I have personally encountered teaching at public schools in China is a fact that foreign teachers are often perceived differently by the students. They do not see us as real teachers because we are foreigners; in many cases, we work for the school only part-time, not as full-time employees, and our classes are more fun and less strict than the Chinese teachers' classes. Regarding these conditions combined with the character of a big group of young primary school students, it can be a big challenge to maintain discipline in the classroom. What has turned out to be the best solution is a combination of the rules, award and punishment system introduced by the Chinese teachers, which makes the class management much easier (for the students, responding to a rule or technique that every Chinese teacher uses is nearly a reflex, they do not even need to think before reacting); together with an emphatic attitude, which allows me to understand the students and their feelings better. At the beginning of every class, I usually ask the students how they feel. Unfortunately there is not enough time to let every single student speak, but many of them still can. In my point of view, knowing students' mood before having started teaching gives the teacher a certain advantage, it makes it easier to predict the dynamics of every particular class. Moreover, understanding the students' feelings can improve the connection between the teacher and the students. Last but not least, facing a big group of students can be stressful not only for the teacher, but for the students as well, especially when they are really young, as it is difficult to create a good connection between each other under such circumstances. Stress in the classroom can be overcome by such a simple gesture as a smile or a little joke. In conclusion, teaching a big group of students combined with the difficulties of cultural differences can be without any doubts very challenging, nevertheless, the challenges can be overcome by using a few simple techniques, which make the process easy and enjoyable.