On the whole, their written skills were good, as was the ability to read and comprehend passages. But how to get people who know their pronunciation is more than likely to be incorrect, to take the plunge and chatter naturally? I don't speak another language. To put it mildly, I suck at remembering words and tones. I know how it feels to constantly get it wrong after the most patient person has corrected me for the umpteenth time. It doesn't feel good, and I accept that few of us will willingly look incompetent in front of our peers. So the challenge for the foreign teachers (ie us) is to gain the trust of the Chinese teachers, and encourage them to just give it a go! It's ok to make mistakes. That's how we learn. Heaps of encouragement, smiles, nods, support and gentle, accepting correction followed by more encouragement. By encouragement, I don't just mean from me, but from other students as well - they were great at this! Add some fun, competitions and laughter, and Bob's your uncle!
|Team games were popular!|
One of the challenges we faced is that some students don't turn up consistently. One morning, or afternoon, you'll do a double take when a fresh (and nervous) face appears. Sometimes it'll be another teacher, sometimes a random university student, sometimes the child of a teacher. It's quite variable. You'll have got to the "give it a go" stage with the bulk of the group but the newcomer needs one on one help to build trust in minimum time. Not ideal, but .....
|Peeking at the card to read the word before putting it down!|
A hive of activity and the hubbub of enthusiastic conversation = success! Most students were so involved they didn't notice assorted photographers strolling in and out of the classrooms. I suspect some of the administration staff would have quite enjoyed being involved in the games as well, even if it did mean speaking English!
My previous posts about Teaching in China were our Arrival, Banquets, Culture and comfort foods, Driving, Exercise and Fabulous Food. The next one will be about History!