Introduction
Being a college teacher in China is unlike being your English teacher back in high school, it is a whole different breed of teacher. I've worked with retired American teachers whose 30 or so years of experience in the American classroom had worked against them. As they tried to teach the Chinese students using an American method, they were met with only frustration. These are the top skills and attributes that have helped me to have an efficient, effective and most importantly enjoyable teaching experience in China.
1: Drama
I took drama classes back in high school just for fun, and I never thought this subject would've ever be useful in a job.
The simulation
Creating scenarios to act out helps students not just know what to say but reinforces the vocabulary and phrases by making the lesson become ingrained as knowledge rather than short lived memory. Some McEnglish schools have their teachers go outside with the students, such as in a supermarket to practice English. This would be effective if they were in an English speaking country, but I fail to see how this would be in a Chinese supermarket. In the classroom you can prepare scenarios they might encounter, what the problems they will face and teach how to resolve issues.
Speech and communication
In drama class we had to give short performances on stage and this requires voice projection, we weren't allowed to use microphones. Chinese students tend to speak softly in English and some are really hard to hear from several meters away.
2: Speech therapy
Different students struggle with different problems when it comes to pronunciation, there's all sorts of reasons and often I am spending a few minutes correcting a student.
3: Team building
Team building isn't just about colleagues bonding, usually it is to help to improve communication, so naturally a lot of these activities are very effective for students to explain and describe, as well as problem solving activities. I had students who were pretty fluent, on an academic stand point they were good, however when giving simple instructions such as "sticky tape the paper on the wall" they had trouble giving instructions.
4: Humour
This doesn't mean to act like a clown for cheap laughs, using humour also doesn't mean taking away the educational value of your class. When you have fifty late teen students who are in the classroom all day long, it is hard for them to stay attentive. CEOs learn from stand up comedians to help give better presentations, why not use humour to help your students to focus on your lesson.
5: Psychology and pedagogy
Again in high school I studied psychology, in year 11 and 12 I had to do at least one maths or science class, so I choose psychology.
Get an idea how they've been taught
When it comes to vocabulary they're taught through translation, when learning this way you remember the meaning but forget the word. I have to introduce students to the concept of root and compound words, for instance, they know the word "international", but they don't know "interactive". They were never taught that "inter" actually means something and they don't see two words but only one. They've learnt with a lot of multiple choice questions resulting in not using articles like "a", as in "a pencil". For instance you might ask "what is this", and their answer will be "pencil" not "a pencil". Due to questions being 'A' dog, 'B' cat, 'C' boy, 'D' pencil. and just tick the answer.
The power of incentives
Gamification helps students engage more in a lesson as competition creates a reward incentive. Competitions helps student become immersed in the lesson, whereas just dictating content doesn't. Getting class retention and finding ways to beat absenteeism by creating incentives to turn up to class.
6: Cultural expert
When new teachers who are starting out with English majors at a university level, become extremely concern that the students might find their class too basic and easy. You can build discussion topics around culture, for instance, Hollywood movies give wrong impressions on American and western culture. They're more familiar with the stereotypes and misrepresentations from what is being portrayed in the movies.
A Chinese teacher taught students this phrase "please be a dear and pass me the salt". the obvious problem is this wouldn't be used by anyone but your grandmother. You can build lessons on what different types of people would say, how people in different locations speak, and most importantly understanding accents.
7: Life coach
What lacks in education around the world these days is "adulting", especially when it comes to job interviews. Education in China focuses on academics as parents believe that high scores leads to good high paying jobs, as oppose to learning a skill. When I was in high school we had all sorts of classes from cooking, music and even sewing, I don't know if these classes still exist as sadly standardized testing is taking away a lot of the hands on classes..
There's a whole bunch of topics about socializing that you could cover in a class and would be interesting to late teens. Dealing with relationships of friends and family just to name a few.,
8: Visual communication
Having a background in art has made teaching easier, but this isn't about painting, it is about understanding how to use visuals in the classroom. For instance, when Apple has product launches they use less text and more visuals. This makes content easier to digest and to not overwhelm students with too much information. Using Gifs in your Power Points really help get your students attention.
9: Innovation
You might hear some people say teaching is an easy job, but these people might either be referring to babysitting a daycare center, or they simply don't care about producing results. If you're planning to turn up to class and stand in front of students and just give a lecture, you're going to have a sea of bored faces who will spend more time on their phones. You need to make your class interactive and engaging using different forms of activities and management.
10: Energetic
Teaching is heavily marketed to backpackers as they are seem to be the demography that are most likely to work overseas. But teaching isn't the same as pouring beer for a pub, you need to be passionate about the role, and someone who really doesn't want to be a teacher just won't have the energy that is needed. It should be marketed to adventurous teachers.
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