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Author Topic: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China  (Read 13131 times)

Day Dreamer

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2008, 08:45:52 AM »
I try to be both entertaining and informative. The "dancing-monkey-acting-the-fool-game" well only so far. In my Bus-Eng class, a room of 70 students quickly dwindled to 30. But those 30 come to every class, art awake, take notes, ask questions and I enjoy every minute of it. I tried to help the Rip Van Winkles, but I'd rather teach a smaller group who want to learn. And the think I'm very entertaining and informative. (Job done)

The younger kids (12 - 14)are actually easier than the unis (20 - 22)
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AMonk

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2008, 10:59:26 AM »
I don't know about the "Foreign" or "in China" portion of this, but I have always used a touch of humour in my lessons.  It helps to keep me sane  axaxaxaxax .....and I do consider myself to be a good (effective) teacher.
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ericthered

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2008, 05:41:09 PM »
I always use humour in class. I find it's the best way to get them to talk. Now, my life may not have been a rip-roaring tale fit for the pen of Twain but there are certain aspects that tend to break the ice, like waking up with a piglet snoring in  my ear, being chased by an irate ram, my one foray into cow-tipping which also led to being chased, taking the wrong ferry and ending up in Sweden instead of a northern part of Denmark, and all the everything-in-China-makes-me-confused anecdotes.
It gets them to ask question and add comments. They laugh and, so far, not a single student has skipped or been late for class.
"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination." Oscar Wilde.

"It's all oojah cum spiffy". Bertie Wooster.
"The stars are God's daisy chain" Madeleine Bassett.

Day Dreamer

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #18 on: November 29, 2008, 04:55:07 PM »
Frequently I teach confidence as much as or any other aspect of learning.

I was shocked as to the extent of vocabulary these guys knew until I assigned written homework. They know the words, they just won't use them.

Funny, back home, you couldn't get us to shut our pie-holes
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Escaped Lunatic

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2008, 11:32:57 PM »
being chased by an irate ram,

Sounds like Eric was a ba-a-a-a-a-ad boy.   ahahahahah
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JShep

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2009, 05:13:14 PM »
The worth of a teacher is measured by their personality rather than their pedagogical skills.

Plenty of people everywhere consider personality quite important when measuring pedagogical skills.

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At least in this respect, China truly is a society where style is valued over substance. This much, I believe, would be obvious to anyone who has taught here for any period of time. 

Many consider this true in other societies as well.

Do people in any society really value style over substance or does it only appear that way from the other side of the fence? Could it be proven? I suppose most teachers in any society could strike a balance between substance and style. Many teachers accomplish this nicely and are remembered for a lifetime.

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So my question is, why the hell do you choose to stay and teach here?

To hear the success stories of my students.

synthette58

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2009, 04:52:38 PM »
What makes a good foreign teacher?
 
#1: A Sense of Humour!!! (note: English Spelling! The Queens!).......we won't go into this right now..........m'kay?

One needs to 'engage' the students - let them know that it's ok to 'think' for themselves - there's NOTHING to remember - they don't have to write down every 'sacred' word that comes out of your unholy mouth!
Hired Monkeys No More!
What I teach, I teach with passion and feeling - if they don't "get it" - then it's their loss.........or Mummy and Daddy's.........if I can't make them sit up and beg for more, then I've failed. 90% of the time, I can. We're here to inspire, to inflame, to invoke - not to pander to the wannabe-big-black-car-drivers............that's not why we're here!!
It's because we see a Nation that's crying out for help - because they've been swept up in the global tide of Capitalism - and, yes, to them - money = face!
It's the same in India - lowest caste, burn the dead.........higher caste, work for big global giant like IBM, make much money, buy good wife.

Trying to differentiate between 'American' (ahem...clears throat......NO! It's not pig flu!!)......and 'real' English.........what they 'hear' on the TV and what is 'real'.
The primary difficulty for me is in discerning 'what' they want to learn?
ie. a bunch of freshmen.......sitting at the furthest recesses of the classroom, avidly texting into their cellphones........Hello!!........Are you with us???..........you want to talk about what!!!! Food? Culture? You've not BEEN anywhere! Next..........Relationships?........oh, come on, you're 20 going on 13..............next...........One Night Stands.......Okay - then you need to be in the class where PedoMan is the teacher!!

Seriously........China needs to shape up re its Education system.......more and more kids are failing their TOEFL, IELTS, SATS, PETS etc.........whatever acronym you feel like putting on it - and it's down to US - NOT the backpackers we've inherited this mess from!
China is #2 in the list of most powerful nations - 1st is India..........(ok, you need a real, legit, 200 hr TESOL/CELTA to teach there, and good luck!)............and what do we have to do??
Wipe out the past 40 years, that's what!
Imagine we're at the inception of the destruction of the Cultural Revolution - because - that's REALLY where we are! Educationally, anyway! We're teaching robots, who have never been allowed to 'think', to 'reason' - FFS, they've never even heard of the Kublai Khan, let alone Socrates!! They don't even know their own history!

We have to undo the damage, and reinstate 'real' teaching methodologies - don't even dare mention annual teacher ed. classes to them!
God Forbid!
Their Chinese teachers are doing great! (which is why 99% of our students FAIL on writing and listening..and why they end up in Daddy's business, or managing Pink Shops downtown, or operating fly-by-night Pyramid health scams!)............it's not rocket science.
It is encumbent upon us to re-educate the system...........

How?
I haven't a clue.
Except one student at a time.
But, Oh, what a mess we've made, so far - no wonder 'laowai' is fallen to such a derogatory term!
 ababababab

Lotus Eater

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2009, 12:49:15 PM »
We definitely need to have a sense of humour as No 1 attribute to teach here - because otherwise we will take ourselves and our role way too seriously.

Like Synthette and many other teachers on this forum, I teach my classes with enthusiasm, with passion and preparation, and the students respond (well, a goodly percentage of them! ahahahahah). I am totally over the moon when they make progress.  I teach critical thinking, and the students pick it up quickly.  It's like opening a door in a wall they didn't realise had a door.  They are through it before you can say "Look...". 

The debating club has to hold try-outs because so many students want to join.  Speech competitions also require try-outs to drop the number of entrants from 100+ to 15-20 that I can realistically train for a further in-house competition.  Students OFTEN come to classes in areas other than their majors because they are eager to learn.  I always have some ring-ins in my classes (even to joining in the final exam assignment!!).  My students will ask me if they can come to a different class because the maths or technology class they want to audit is on at the same time.  Other students are studying a second degree at a different uni at the same time.  There is a significant percentage of students who are really motivated.  How many students back home, at uni level, would ask for additional time with you to practice speaking or write extra papers for you to check?  Here, it is again, a significant percentage.

But we aren't here because
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we see a Nation that's crying out for help
.  We are here because the Chinese Gov't decided as part of its Opening Up policy and its newly acquired relationship with western trading powers that English would be a useful language for a trading nation to learn.  It replaced Russian as the 'language du jour'.  Most of our students parents or grandparents, if they went to school, learned Russian as a second language.

They do know their own history - just not our version of it!  ahahahahah ahahahahah  I am sure more Chinese students can quote poetry and philosophers than our students - just Chinese poetry and Chinese philosophers!  How many western students know anything about Li Bai or Du Fu?  But Chinese students will at least know Shakespeare and other western writers existed.

When western countries have DROPPING literacy rates, we can't in all honesty say that our education systems don't need revamping just as much.
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The newly released National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) just shows how “far” we have come in the last 10 years.

The Assessment shows a 25 percent drop-off in reading proficiency on the part of college graduates since 1992, with only 31 percent of those classified as “formally educated” attaining what is deemed a high level of decoding text. While there is some good news (modest literacy gains among African-Americans and Asian-Americans), we must face up to the fact that some 40 million American adults (as the Christian Science Monitor put it) “can’t read much beyond ‘See Spot run.”
 

When people in western countries vote for idiots like John Howard and George Bush, when they accept the "Patriot Act' and other "National Security' legislation uncomplainingly, then we too have raised nations of people who cannot think.

China has had a massive expansion in the education system over the last 20 years.  With its continuing changes in policy, the expansion is continuing, at primary, secondary and tertiary level.  The Ministry of Education has a massive program to manage.  Sure it needs changes, every teacher and student you speak to will give you additional ideas on the way it should change.  Choosing the right changes, having them implemented across the country is a massive job.  It is happening.  A number of universities have begun Critical Thinking programs, more and more universities each year enter national and international debating competitions, more and more students are studying overseas, more and more teachers are taking 3-12 month 'visiting scholar' programs overseas.  All of these push change.

The Chinese system of education also has its pluses.  China also doesn't do too badly in international Maths and Science Olympiads. Their education system must be doing something right. 
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China is the only nation that has achieved an all-members-gold IMO multiple times (9 times in total, including years 1992, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009).
Scientific innovation in China is increasing, strongly supported by the Government.  Can western countries look at the level of support their governments give to basic research and compare favourably?  Much of this research is done at the universities.

Students may be 20 going on 13 in their naivety about sex, romance, relationships, politics,etc but they are 20 going on 50 in their sense of responsibility to family and state.  How many western students will say, in all sincerity, "I want to make my country better"?  These students do. How many western students talk about paying back their parents for their education?  Or fully expect their parents to live with them when they are old and sick?

I think we need to be very careful when we want to
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re-educate the system
.  We are using our ethno-centric values to impose our version of 'right' and 'wrong'.  And our own countries don't show us a huge amount of benefit when compared to this system.

Riz

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2009, 05:56:48 AM »
I am impressed by what Lotus opinionated. Population is one big factor too where it could take time to bring about major changes. I see teens nowadays coming from schools to learn English at this training center. I find them quite imaginative and communicative. I know it requires so much patience for a foreigner many times. I mean in a classroom situation. It's slow tho yet it's progressing. It can take many decades to improve the education scene here for the Govt. I new breed of trained teachers equipped with latest teaching methodologies and motivated to teach is required. Exposure to international news and media. I'd include sex education in that as well since pregnancy out of wedlock is common in China. Genuine foreigner teachers are  qualified to teach in their own countries who studies educational psychology, classroom management to curriculum designing plus lesson planning, delivery,etc. Chinese classroom management requires hell lot of labor. There are so many micro details in education that don't exist in this system. As I said earlier it'd improve gradually. It also requires open-mindedness and free thinking when we learn a different language. It's not that language we learn but the culture, slang, the way people of that language behave or live is also important. A language is a concrete structure of an unfinished building unless we plaster, paint, furnish and decorate with other aspects as I've described above.

Well, that will not be easy for the Govt to hire real Experts then. I am doubtful if any specialist will want to teach for 4500-5000 RMB a month? We all do it now but it would be harder to find a job for only being a Laowai.....It's again good that Chinese people are familiar with foreigners and have learnt a little bit from us during 10-15 years. Us means foreigners here.
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kitano

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2009, 01:11:27 AM »
I remember when i learned Italian I passed the exams to ALevel standard at university in England but when I went to live in Italy I was scared to even book a hotel in italian at first

that's the basis of my philosophy for teaching. It's true for any subject anywhere, but for most chinese people it seems more acute because of the distance and their education system, but communicating that the language they are studying is something alive and not just something to study is our main job imo

James the Brit

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On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #25 on: October 04, 2009, 10:02:47 PM »
Interesting points have been raised here. However, I disagree with what Synthette has said. I don't think it's a foreign teachers place to "change the system". This isn't our place. This is an implied way of criticising the Chinese Gov' and as you know, this will not go down well.

We are guests in China and if we don't like it then, tough it out or leave, easy as that.

synthette58

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #26 on: November 11, 2009, 02:59:38 PM »
Perhaps better said than I first put it.
We can't change the system, but we can 'tweak' it into shape slowly - I'm still constantly amazed how LITTLE the students (and I mean post-grads here!) know about their own country and culture.
I've now asked 360 out of my 400 students what the 5 stars are on the Chinese flag.......okok, the Big One, we all know........then 4 small - one is workers, one is farmers - the other two - NADA!!.....not a CLUE!

- not quite true - one bright spark this morning suggested that one of the other two remaining stars was 'Foreign Teachers' - thus guaranteeing themselves a place in my PG history, and more than a brief moment of hilarity.

Some days are just  bibibibibi

But, who the heck else is going to teach them? Who? The Cultural Revolution is dead and buried, my friend, we're looking at a 'New' China. Just by virtue of being here endows us with a huge responsibility; unless it's 'just about money', of course. mmmmmmmmmm

George

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #27 on: November 11, 2009, 09:10:09 PM »
Problem, Synthette, is, they don't really believe us. Their "real" teachers, and the books they have to read, fill their little heads politically correct stuff. That's more important, because they need that stuff to pass their exams.
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Lotus Eater

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #28 on: November 12, 2009, 01:18:25 AM »
I think education strategies are changing in China, albeit VERY slowly, given the size of the population requiring education, the Confucianist basis of culture and the massive disparity between and within provinces.

There are now many universities out there experimenting with various ways of implementing the directive for 'Quality Education' - and yes, there is one.  The market place is driving a need for educational change.  The increasing number of students heading overseas for their Master or PhD degrees to GOOD western unis is pushing the development of more flexible education here.

Every 3 or 4 weeks I am given papers to edit, written by non-English majors, with a reasonably high standard of English.  These papers are new theories, new discoveries - all in the high-tech subjects, being the type of uni I am in, and they are being accepted and published by well-known English language professional journals. Chinese professors and students CAN be creative, and they are.

When we are calling for a major change in 'the system' there are many factors we need to think about - not the least is a comparison with our own system.  Have we done such a good job in education at home?

We had the same problems when a huge influx of students entered a previously limited system.  Today the system itself is more geared to the numbers (and in fact will have to start gearing down, given future demographics) but we can't claim our results are rising rapidly or that there is a massive rise in creativity or critical thinking in our own countries.

One US 2008 study found:

Study findings include:

    * More than 75 percent of students at 2-year colleges and more than 50 percent of students at 4-year colleges do not score at the proficient level of literacy. This means that they lack the skills to perform complex literacy tasks, such as comparing credit card offers with different interest rates or summarizing the arguments of newspaper editorials.

    * Students in 2- and 4-year colleges have the greatest difficulty with quantitative literacy: approximately 30 percent of students in 2-year institutions and nearly 20 percent of students in 4-year institutions have only Basic quantitative literacy. Basic skills are those necessary to compare ticket prices or calculate the cost of a sandwich and a salad from a menu.


I think we need to look at the efficacy of our own programs before we require a wholesale dismantling of this system to make it fit what we think is the 'right' way.  Educational theorists have argued long and hard over what is the best way to teach, and every few years we seem to have an overhaul of one sector or another of teaching.  We still don't have it right for our own cultures and students, especially in a rapidly changing world.

We should also be careful that we don't compare apples with oranges.  We are, for the most part, teaching ESL.  So to compare on a level basis, we should be comparing the programs run here for language learning with programs run at home for second language learning.  How many language learning programs at home move out of the fundamentals of grammar, vocab, construction etc into asking students to be creative, think critically, research etc in the second language?

Here, I do what I can to help students prepare for the world they are moving into.  I coach a healthy debating club that has to run selection trials over 2 days because so many students want to join (I have no data for comparison in other countries on that one - any teachers from other countries can give me advice on how many students want to join debating societies in their universities???).  

Universities across China are moving into teaching critical thinking programs and every year more and more debating tournaments are held, with more and more universities joining.  ALL in a 2nd language.  This university runs short courses for all 2nd and 3rd year English majors in Debating and Public Speaking to increase critical thinking skills and confidence.

And given the control university administrators have here over the students and activities - does anyone really believe that I could do this without at least tacit support from the authorities?? NO way.  And I get more than tacit support - I get monetary support (not much, but some!) - a clear sign that this is something the UNIVERSITY (and therefore the government) wants.

There is much to do, and the Chinese teachers and students, and the Chinese government are aware of it.  Things are happening, but I don't believe we can or should dictate the direction these things should move in, especially if we are doing it from an ethno-centric view.
 

Schnerby

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Re: On Being A Good Foreign Teacher in China
« Reply #29 on: November 12, 2009, 03:21:00 AM »
We should also be careful that we don't compare apples with oranges.  We are, for the most part, teaching ESL.  So to compare on a level basis, we should be comparing the programs run here for language learning with programs run at home for second language learning.  How many language learning programs at home move out of the fundamentals of grammar, vocab, construction etc into asking students to be creative, think critically, research etc in the second language?


It's true. Their high school English is so much better than my high school Chinese...  :wtf: