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As china grows economically and expands its power in the global marketplace, more and more people are learning english not only as a means to advance themselves intellectually, but to be more and more useful in their future jobs. However, the country's english learners face many problems in their schools, including large class sizes, non-native speaking teachers, and a lack of creativity and freedom in the classroom. A readily noticeable problem in chinese classrooms is the sheer amount of students the teacher must deal with. There are over 20 million students in china's higher education system, which is a huge number of students to deal with (china Education
Center). While studying in china, the author spoke to classes with an average number of 50-75 students, quite a large number of students to deal with when it comes to language learning, a high maintenance subject requiring constant attention and practice. Large classes make planning activities problematic, as well as limiting the amount of freedom and spontaneity the class can experience in general. As the author observed, practice is largely limited to worksheets, homework is primarily reading, and lessons largely consist of teacher-centric lectures. Another problem that chinese classrooms face is the prevalence of non-native english speakers which populate the lower levels of chinese education, and sometimes can even penetrate the ranks of higher education. The problem with non-native speaking english
teachers is that many areas of the curriculum can be taught incorrectly. Pronunciation is liable to be taught wrong, as well as the potential for “Chinglish” to abound. Outdated and rarely-used words and phrases often make their way into the classroom and can confuse native speakers in conversation. Because they have no way to know that what they are being taught is wrong, they take these incorrect lessons they are being taught to heart and, in turn, teach them to the next generation. Possibly the biggest problem for english learners in china is the lack of freedom and creativity and its repercussions in the classroom. “Only 4.7 percent of chinese primary and secondary school students think they have curiosity and imagination and 14.9 percent of them hope to have imagination and creativity,” writes Liang Jun of People's Daily Online (“chinese Students”). This stems from a number
of factors. First, because china's population is so big, it fills the classroom to capacity and beyond. Because of that, teachers need to put their foot down in order to control the students' behavior and teach the lesson in what they see as an effective way. Second, traditionally, teachers in china command the utmost respect, and when the teacher talks, nobody else talks. The students are not allowed to have any opinions. With classes so large, how could any teacher let each student have their say? Third, the chinese education system and job market looks fondly upon test scores and grades, not upon skills and innovation, which shows itself in china's students domination in the world's test scoring, and have
manipulated their education system to be test-oriented rather than creativity-oriented (“china Beats Out”). Because of the lack of creativity, freedom, and discussion in china's classrooms, chinese students are withdrawn, rarely inclined to speak, let alone state their own opinion and engage in a discussion. These are very serious problems that china must deal with in order to truly be a world-class competitor in education. china, just like any other country, has issues with its educational system. A booming population, non-native speakers who teach incorrect english, and the lack of freedom and creativity in its classrooms all coalesce into real problems for the english teacher.
The teacher must be creative and willing to try anything in order to help students overcome these barriers to truly learn to love english and see it as a real tool for communication. Games, activity, an open, engaging attitude, and the willingness to let students experiment with the language are all key to helping chinese students overcome the shortcomings of what they were taught as younger students. Bibliography china Education. china Education Center. . “chinese Students Lack Imagination, Creativity.” People's Daily Online - english. . “china Beats Out Finland For Top Marks in Education.” http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2035586,00.html
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