Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thinking ahead to next year

This week all of the English Major teachers and students are gone doing observations. I didn’t realize that they are the majority of people I hang out with here in Jiangyou. So Monday afternoon I had some time and I couldn’t think what to do, also because most of my students are practicing dancing all day for a school dance competition that will take place later this week. That or they are practicing for the sports meet that is at the end of April or various exams that are approaching. Either way I didn’t know what to do with the free time. Just as I was about to dial up Eliam, who wasn’t working today and also is alone this week since Kerry is with the other English teachers observing at other universities, Media stops by. She has brought me homemade yogurt, which was quite good. She also came to discuss her concerns about teaching her students. She feels that the textbook is required and necessary for passing their national collegiate exams (which are necessary for graduation), but unrealistic for their futures as preschool teachers. I honestly didn’t have much advice. I suggested that she try and mold the two together and utilize the idea of homework in order to maximize what little class time we are all given to teach these students. It’s a frustrating reality and I am just beginning to understand the surface of the system here and how to work around it in a way that most benefits my students.
I have begun planning for next school year even with this term is only half-finished. I am trying to develop a years worth of teaching in 45 minute brackets that can further both my students’ English ability of listening and speaking, while enhancing their teaching knowledge since I have learned that there are no real teaching methodology courses that the students take prior to being sent into the classroom after two years in college. My plan so far is to focus my first semester on developing their oral English skills by focusing on problem areas I may notice in the first week through a writing assignment; giving them real-world conversation practice; and offering many opportunities to listen and speak—with me doing very little talking. I have realized that they are taught many new vocabulary words, assigned much reading and writing, and have grammar and translation beaten into them. However, they are not given much time to speak, utilize their new knowledge, and learn real-world English (like colloquialisms, idioms and slangs). Knowing this now, I can focus my lessons to offer the students this kind of English study experience.
The second semester I have decided to focus entirely on teaching. I will directly teach the students English children’s songs, games, and stories. I will ask them to learn these and practice teaching them in groups. I figure it is still listening and speaking English, but with more relevance to their future careers. I just wish I had realized this earlier. Making these plans makes me excited and eager for the next school year. I really want to take next year to reflect and improve my abilities as a teacher. Teachers reading this, if any suggestions, comments or ideas will be much appreciated. ?

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