Teach English in Magutian Zhen - Zhumadian Shi

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English is considered by many people to be the dominant language that is spoken globally. Today we live in a connected world and the demand for learning English is growing all over. Therefore, as an English teacher, we have to prepare for the day that we meet a class with a range of nationalities. When it comes to very young learners such as preschoolers, putting them in a class with other friends from different countries would not cause many problems. The fact that they have not even completely mastered their mother tongues could be an advantage for them while learning English since they are unaware of the diversity and new things are interesting. However, the same cannot be said for classes with older learners. Therefore, the aim of this essay is to discuss the problems that teachers may face when teaching classes of young learners aged seven and above as well as the solutions to address these issues. First, when teachers first take a class with a variety of nationalities, we often have to face a very common issue regarding how to pronounce the students’ names correctly. This is very important if the teachers want to establish rapport with the students since their names may have great significance to their families or even culture. Thus, when the child attends classes and teachers mispronounce or change the name, they can be considered to be in a sense disregarding the students’ families and cultures. Furthermore, teachers’ failure to pronounce a name in a correct way may impact the emotional well-being of the students, which in turn can lead to our students having poor performance in the class. To prevent this situation, educators first should keep in mind that we need to show respect to our students by remembering and trying to say their names correctly even if we cannot do that on the first attempt. In addition, teachers should be honest with students. We can ask them to teach us how to pronounce their names and also to correct us again and again until we get the names right. In fact, that would be useful to always have a note carried with us to write out the phonetic spelling. The second problem we often encounter is the fact that there is a lack of verbal communication between the students due to language differences and their lower English levels. This problem usually happens in a class of beginners or elementary learners which obviously creates an uncomfortable atmosphere in the class and some gaps between our students. As an effect, they will lose their confidences, their interests, and their motivations to learn English. To handle this situation, teachers first have to find a way to ‘break the ice’, which means using ice-breaking activities. Some simple, easy and fun activities before each lesson could help our students feel comfortable and blow enjoyable air in the classroom. Another effective strategy would be using illustrations in the class because of their advantages in helping our students understand the lessons and how easy it could be to find illustration materials on books, posters, the Internet or even create our own illustrations due to our lesson plans. Last but not least, a good teacher should know how to use gestures to reduce the need for verbal explanation. It has to be a skill, not just a technique we use in the class. In the third place, teaching a class with a variety of nationalities leads us to another problem, which is cultural backgrounds difference. Why this is a problem? Because we feel comfortable with people we have more similarities. And because of prejudice, differences in religions, differences in beliefs, people have been pushing apart. Our students are no exception. How can we teach a class where students cannot even be friends with each other? This is a challenge but also an opportunity for us to become a culturally responsive educator. We have a perfect environment to demonstrate how we embrace our own culture as well as the others’ cultures and heritages. What we need to do is showing to our students that we are constantly learning about cultures and cultural differences. In addition, we should provide classroom activities to help students share and express their own cultural identities. For example, we can organize group work or pair work discussing each country, celebrate in different festivals, activities in which students learn to prepare traditional foods from countries other than their own, have days for traditional costumes etc. Besides, we must have some cultural topics in our lesson plans; use materials like pictures, videos, books, TV programs to display the diversity of cultures. Eventually, the students have different issues while learning English is another problem which makes the teachers’ job so much harder. “Different nationalities have problems with different aspects of English pronunciation () Those who speak languages such as Japanese and most dialects of Chinese find it hard to differentiate between “r” and “l” sounds, while the distinction between “b” and “v” is problematic for speakers of many other languages, including Spanish and Arabic” - Oxford Royale Summer Schools. 4 Difficulties English Poses for EFL Learners, and How to Overcome Them. [online] Available at: < https://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/articles/efl-difficulties.html> [Accessed 05 July 2019]. These are just some examples of difficulties while different nationalities learn English. It will take a lot of time for the teachers to discover all the problems. Therefore, it must take even more time to solve them all. As their teacher, we must be aware of some common problems happening with each nationality. Hence, we have appropriate strategies to support our students to overcome those difficulties. In conclusion, teaching in a multicultural class can be a great challenge, but we benefit in each second of it. The more problems we solve, the better teachers we become. That is also a chance for us to improve ourselves while learning from our students.