Teach English in Zhangba Zhen - Baoji Shi

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In life people learn throughout the course of their life. There is formal learning, where students go to school or complete a course of some kind. On the other hand, there is informal learning, where one may learn through life experiences, observations and interactions with others. In both situations, one can encounter learning difficulties. In formal learning, one can encounter difficulties that may be due to a variety of factors which are not limited to: memory, attention, a challenge with a specific skill, or individual factors. The first area where one could encounter a learning challenge as it relates to short-term memory or long-term memory. To remember something, one needs to remember the information for a short time, which if practiced and connected to their knowledge would then go into long-term memory. In the class where a child is learning English, perhaps a short-term challenge would be seen if material is drilled for a few minutes, but then forgotten a few minutes later. In long-term memory, perhaps a child remembers the information until the end of the lesson, however there is no carry over to the next day. To overcome challenges of short-term memory, it would help if the teacher made sure to break down material into smaller pieces, uses multi-sensory learning strategies and helps the student connect the information to prior knowledge. Furthermore, to encourage the child to keep the information in his long-term memory it would be helpful to frequently review the information. In some ways, a course book which reviews information from time to time would be beneficial to the learner who struggles with long-term memory. Another area that can affect learning is one’s attention. Before even remembering the information, a child needs to attend to the information. One may find a student daydreaming or not paying attention, focusing on the wrong thing or not attending to something for a long enough period to remember the information. It is important that the teacher clearly points out the meaningful skill or task. At times, especially younger students, may be focusing on something else. For some students, it helps to have the child sit near the front of the class by the teacher. Given, the EFL teacher may use a different set-up in the class, this preferential seating may be different in each layout. Again, it is helpful if the teacher uses multi-sensory strategies and uses material that will interest the student. The activate stage may be especially beneficial for some students with attentional concerns. The reason being, is that sometimes peer interaction and being engaged help the student who struggles with attending in class. For some students, they will need the activate stage to be highly organized to help them stay focused and attend to the task. Furthermore, the teacher should try to incorporate strategies that will help motivate the child. These are just a few things that may help a student who struggles with attending to the information. A third area where students may encounter learning difficulties is with a specific skill or task. Learning English can be broken into four key skills including: speaking, listening, reading and writing. It is important to remember that each student will have different strengths and weaknesses while learning another language. While the first line of defense is to ensure that quality teaching is taking place which uses good teaching practice, it is helpful to identify specifically where students are struggling. Once the area is identified, for example pronunciation, the teacher can give further support to that student. One thing to keep in mind is that some students may be lacking the perquisite skills to learn the new skill. In this case, the teacher can teach the skill that the student missed or reteach the concept the student didn’t grasp the first time around. It is helpful to give the student extra practice, use different strategies until one is found that will help the student and scaffold instruction in a way that will lead the student building that skill. Lastly, the student may have individual factors which could make learning difficult for her. These factors are numerous, but may include: difficult living circumstances, a missed period of schooling, negative learning experiences, poor vision, being used to a rote system of learning in a critical thinking learning environment or poor motivation. Each of these factors, which only cover a limited number of individual factors that could impede learning, would require the teacher to take different actions to help the student. It is always helpful to get to know one’s students and build a good rapport with both students and their parents. When asking questions to get to the root of the problem, it helps to remain humble and being ready to learn. Depending on the context, it is important to be aware of the student’s culture and the culture in which one is teaching. It also helps to be observant of the student and even his parents. In conclusion, there are different learning difficulties that could negatively impact a student from learning. When teaching English, the teacher is teaching English to individual students who are not all the same in their strengths and weaknesses. Even when one encounters learning challenges, the teacher can do different things to help students learn and make progress. A teacher can positively empower a struggling student but has to make the decision to do so.