In China, the Confucian tradition largely reiterates the importance of education hence academic success is considered a matter of fact by most of the Chinese families. While in the US school system puts more emphasis on the importance of inquiry and critical thinking, in China the students learn by observing, reading and imitating thus volunteering information is not part of their education system. While in the US the education is quite spontaneous and interactive, the Chinese education is very formal, and the teacher tells the students exactly what to do.
Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in China is not a walk in the park, and if you want to come out effectively, then you must strive to get the skills and knowledge that go beyond the lesson preparation and connect with your students. Research shows that one of the most effective ways of instructions for teaching ESL is one-on-one tutoring. For such learners, individualized and additional instructional time is quite essential and invaluable. The teacher should provide personal support and encouragement to their students until they achieve the set threshold level of competency in reading, writing, listening and speaking in English.
Factors affecting acquisition of Literacy in ESL
As an English teacher, you must be aware of some of the elements that affect the learning processes of ESL. You should be able to know more about Chinese students Vs American students, and you will know why you need to handle the Chinese students differently from the way you handle the American students because:
- For any native English speaker, by the time the kid enters into the kindergarten, they already have more than 7,000 vocabularies and can effectively, pragmatically and phonologically communicate in English. But in China, their oral proficiency is way below the required or even worse. It is nil since a student would need to acquire enough vocabulary so as to develop meaningful speech connections. This takes some time and before the teacher delves in teaching high-frequency rhymes, and spelling, the student must build enough oral vocabulary first.
- The ESL teacher must go according to plan and assess since the students have different acquisition stages including listening, speaking, writing and reading. The teacher should be well aware of the student’s capabilities and discern what they can and can’t do.
- The students are different and have had different exposures to both Chinese and students. Whereas some students might be well-versed with the Chinese language and can be able to relate some of the strategies with the English class, some just to do have an idea hence the teacher ought to avoid comparisons and work out a plan that caters to individuals and not the whole class.
- You have to remember that America and China are two culturally different societies with notions of health, family and communities worlds apart. So when giving out examples, try to be relevant and give them something that they have acquired the mental schema on. If not, use real contexts, videos, pictures, books to help them build new cultural and linguistic schemata.
Reasons why you should incorporate Individual Language and Culture while teaching.
It’s quite essential that you get to learn your students in political, socio-economical, educational, linguistic, and cultural terms when teaching ESL in China. You must able to do the following:
- Being aware of the multiple factors that may promote or affect the student’s academic success. The factors range from the students ability to get sufficient diet, negative societal attitudes towards ESL students, availability of assistance when handling work to the type of study environment that they have. When you connect with your students on a personal level, you will get to learn more about your student’s beliefs, values, and customs, traditions, views on education and the family roles factors that may affect the conceptualization of ESL
- Getting acquainted with the morphological and phonological aspects of the Chinese language which will help you understand how the Chinese language influences making mistakes in English and how exactly your student is going to re-learn that. With such background, it will help you adequately plan and get the instructions to address the errors.
- You should learn that although some ethnic communities share traits, just address your students individually and avoid stereotypes.
- Being able to understand that the aforementioned three are quite vital in building trust and creating a closer rapport with your students which is a prerequisite in any teaching experience. When you bond with your students, you’ll be able to talk comfortably about your lives, develop stories and share them. With such student-centered activities, you will be killing two birds with one stone since you can use the story as the basis for teaching language syntax and phonemic awareness as well as learn some background information about your students.
- Be able to learn strategies for handling and validating your student’s cultures and language. You can do this by asking your students to school you a little bit about their culture. To lower the student’s anxiety for the first, you can get a professional translator who will give them a breakdown of what the lesson will be all about.
Instructional Planning following Language Assessment
Teaching ESL commences once the teacher has the relevant students information on proficiency levels and have accordingly planned based on the provided information. The teacher must consider:
- To be able to learn about your students’ ability to read and write then you must assess their oral language speaking and listening skills. This may be done by centering questions on your student’s life, for instance, his likes/dislikes and other interesting information about them. That will not only help you know them better but also you get to gauge his fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
- Assessing second language reading competencies of the student. The teacher should provide instructions that promote love for reading since some of the students may not have been exposed to reading books hence would dislike reading. It is also expected that the students might have pronunciation problems which ideally don’t interfere with comprehension hence the students should feel comfortable while reading.
- Assessing the students writing proficiency should be done by giving the students a particular topic that can easily relate to and ask them to write about it. They can write about their favorite activities, stories about their friends and family or even going to school. The ESL teacher must have shown them how to develop paragraphs and using writing prompts.
- As a teacher, you should be aware assessment is a continuous process hence to churn out the best results at the end of the day, you must make the class as comfortable and interactive as possible. For different proficiency stage, the teacher should be well guided on finding literacy development ideas that are not only interactive but also the teacher and students can bond for a better relationship.
- After the assessment, a tentative instructional plan is designed and includes the student’s areas of strength, areas of need, objectives, and action plan. This will help the teacher know exactly where to concentrate more regarding the student’s performance.
Teaching English as a Second Language clearly needs a lot of teacher-student bonding since it requires specific individualized instructions which will address a particular student’s need. The teacher should connect with the students over the classroom activities, stories, and cultural information. The best ESL teachers in China must have rave understanding and skills in the areas of Chinese language and culture. Preparation of personalized assessment and instructions are what the students will ultimately need to succeed.