Article by Lisa Guo
As a freelancer in English teaching and bilingual writing, I have come to love my freelancing life more and more. I am blessed to have lived my childhood in Rhode Island , USA and then returned to my mother country when I was just 12 years old. I was accepted into Clark University with a scholarship in August 2012 for one year. As we all know, education is part of a country’s soft powers, and it is the key to a country becoming a developed country. Education is very different between China and the USA, but through my 11 years of teaching English, I have found a number of very good teaching methods: so I would like to share my teaching methods and experiences with you.
I have been teaching students of all ages since 2011, whether it’s a toddler in their diapers, a teenager going through puberty, or even college students and I teach differently for each kind of student. The first method would be using games – this works especially for the younger kids, and in particular for kids under 12 years old, because kids have a lower attention span, so games can help them focus. I would like to share an experience concerning this when I was teaching at Xi’an’s Giraffe training school: one game that I came up with is similar to the America game Monopoly, although I changed the rules. First, I created a treasure chest map and adjusted it to the needs of the game. The rules are that each student is a survivor in the board game, and they need to find their way out of the jungle and try to find as many treasures on the map as possible. At the same time, when they land on a block, they will have to answer an English grammar question. The kids loved it! If you would like to use this strategy, try to be creative, but limit the time of the game and balance it with teaching and feedback.
A second great teaching method is storytelling. I have learned from professional education texts that when it comes to linguistics, it’s easier for kids to remember stories than simply single vocabulary words. I have applied this teaching method for many years now: in fact yesterday, I was teaching the word “tents” to my second grade student. He is Chinese, and has trouble memorizing English words. So, I told him a story that I made up which was about: “ ten ‘tents’ in the woods. “ ( ten + ts = tents). When I reviewed this word at the end of my 1-hour class he could still remember it. In fact he started making a creative story himself : “Alphabets are alive . There are 10 “t”s in the word “tents”, ten + t + s =tents.” He told me his English teacher in his public school he goes to doesn’t teach this way; he said his teacher just makes them write the word multiple times through rote memorization.
Last but not least, watching movies can be a useful tool for learning. Some people can grasp visual pictures better than words, especially young students. During my middle school years in China, I used to try to watch a movie every weekend. My father was worried that I might lose my American accent and natural English speaking ability so we would always go to the media shops and buy a bunch of English-language DVDs. I remember watching Pearl Harbor, the Lord of the Rings, The Sound of Music, and so on. It’s a very practical and fun way to learn English, so I used this method in my English classes. The kids’ attention were drawn by the movies. Not only were they more interested in learning English, their oral and listening skill improves greatly. Of course, there is a drawback, students lack discipline when watching movies, so I suggest parents or teachers limit their time doing this. I suggest having the kids finish doing their homework and then reward them with a movie.
There are many ways for students to learn English, and I have mainly explained three methods which are by playing fun games, telling stories, and watching movies. Throughout my career, I have had a lot of teaching and training experience. I love teaching and I love the English language as much as I love my mother-tongue. Other teaching methods includes going to English corners, practicing with native English people, participating in English speaking contests and debates, reading books and etc… Well, that’s it for today. If you have any questions or suggestions please contact me at my email email@example.com.
Lisa is a freelance English and Chinese teacher and writer