Dave's Sketch Journal

Drawing is taking a line for a walk. - Paul Klee

Between the Classes

I've now been teaching English in China for several weeks. I'll have to say, it's exhausting.

On Wednesdays I start early at 8:45 and teach for about two hours. The kids are between 10 and 12 years of age and don't know much English. I find myself giving instructions slowly, first in English, and then if I get puzzled looks, again in Chinese.

Teaching dialog

I've been teaching dialog, simple dialog, dialog they'd be most likely to use in everyday life. For example, I taught them the words and sentences they'd use when ordering a BigMac at McDonalds, and words they'd use when asking their mother if they can go out to play. After speaking the entire dialog myself, I invite of the kids up in front of the class to play one of the roles. For example, I acted as the McDonald's employee who asked them what they'd like to order. They were, well, just themselves ordering a meal.

After going over the dialog several times this way, I break them into groups to practice with each other. This is one of the methods that Dr. Harry Cotton taught us in our TESOL class. (You'll notice in this post my MindMap of ALL the methods I learned in class.) It's very important to keep mixing it up, keep using different methods lasting only 10 or 20 minutes each. This is most helpful in order to keep their attention focused.

Involvement is key

I interview them, randomly ask them questions, and invite them up in front to "show off" their written sentences.  I also use a lot of body language, gestures, and facial expressions. This helps them stay engaged in the action.

The result though is, I'm exhausted after just a couple of hours.

Now, I'm on break, resting before my next class this evening at 5:30. My 5:30 session should be much easier as the kids are older and know more English. This affords me the option of giving them more opportunity to talk, so I ask lots of questions in these evening sessions.

The more they talk in the target language, the more comfortable they'll feel speaking it. This is especially important for them since they will be moving to America to attend a university for their degree.

I don't know how I got over the hill without getting to the top. -Anon


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