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What the schools want

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  • Steve
    I have been here for almost 2 months now, and yesterday I finally got a meeting with the Head of the school to find out what they want me to do. I am teaching
    Message 1 of 26 , Dec 3, 2003
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      I have been here for almost 2 months now, and yesterday I finally got a
      meeting with the Head of the school to find out what they want me to do. I
      am teaching juniors age 13-15 mostly, and the younger ones have just begun
      to learn English. As this is a private school, it seems that the content of
      the classroom is governed by the students. The school is a business, and
      have to ensure that none of the kids goes home with any complaints.

      Up to now I have been teaching new words by association and correct
      pronunciation, but it seems that this is completely wrong. The school want
      me to play games with the first year kids, and to write dialogues for the
      older kids to speak. They want me to teach new words by writing them on a
      blackboard and making the kids repeat them, and I must not teach
      pronunciation - it is the job of the Chinese teachers to do that.

      Now I know some of you have been around for some time, but is this normal? I
      cannot see the point of me being here to be a children's entertainer or to
      take education methods back to the time of Dickens. The main advantage I
      have over the Chinese teacher is my voice, but they do not like me to
      correct kids from saying "zis" "zat" and "zere". Amazingly, I have found
      that kids have been taught that "th" = "sss"!

      I will get out of here in the next few weeks, but I have to endue the rest
      of the term playing daft games and allowing the kids to mispronounce.

      Steve
      Hechuan, Chongqing


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Nelson Bank
      ... Steve, The above pronouncement is not correct. It should be You MUST teach pronunciation. Your self-value as a teacher will serve you better than the
      Message 2 of 26 , Dec 3, 2003
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        >I must not teach pronunciation

        Steve, The above pronouncement is not correct. It
        should be "You MUST teach pronunciation." Your
        self-value as a teacher will serve you better than the
        appreciation of your school's boss for not rocking the
        boat. Teach pronunciation, and anything else that you
        feel will improve your students' English language
        skills. Remember, the Tao sees all, and will reward
        in kind.

        Nelson Bank
      • Tony Lee
        ... teacher has the responsibility to introduce subjects and topics that the Government finds acceptable or has requested. Some topics are not within the
        Message 3 of 26 , Dec 4, 2003
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          --- In teflchina@yahoogroups.com, "john pullen" <j_pullen@h...>
          wrote:
          > It will all depend on the context of the situtation. ... then a
          teacher has the responsibility to introduce subjects and topics that
          the Government finds acceptable or has requested. Some topics are
          not within the direction of the government.>
          ... No, one can respond or clarify items that arise in a
          classroom. However, to plan to create within the students an
          understanding of topics that are not approved, is inappropriate for
          a teacher. Within Chinese universities and high schools the
          current administration does not now allow sex education, western
          political education, religeous education, and training against the
          government. ...
          ---------------------------
          John, I think you are taking concerns way beyond the stated aims
          of the original poster. I have re-read them twice and I can find no
          mention of his intention to cram these forbidden topics into the
          students against their will.
          Many universities teach "film" and western culture and there are
          never any guidelines that say a teacher must wait until a student
          raises a topic before it can be considered. If one takes all your
          forbidden topics completely out of western culture or most films,
          there would be little left to discuss. Many Culture classes are
          conducted without any texts being provided and I doubt that would
          happen if the government was so concerned about the inclusion of
          certain topics.
          ---------------------------------

          > I would not expect that a foreign teacher who is brought to my
          son's class in the USA would teach Chinese by presenting
          information on Budhist principals and teachings as the medium for
          discussing the language.
          -------------------------------------------
          Actually, I can't think of a better way to teach students how to use
          the language -- especially given my understanding of what Budhism is
          all about. After all, that is what my understanding of my role is --
          to help the students actually use the language in realistic
          situations rather than just "teach" english as a normal subject.
          -----------------------------------
          >I would also not expect that films showing communism as the
          acceptable political principal would be used in the learning of
          Chinese. My expectation is that the teacher will consider my
          values and not break the laws of my country.
          --------------------------------------------
          Not sure how you can teach a culture by leaving out sex, religion
          AND politics. I did a stint as a relief History teacher last year
          and there was a basic description of the Chinese political system
          and related history. To be expected, I thought.
          --------------------------------------------

          > The American law system is not the only system that should be used
          and its political, social and religeous systems are not the only
          systems with value.
          > Discussing values is one thing, but basing those values within
          one cultural and geopolitical foundation isn't the proper direction
          within a foreign country. ...
          --------------------------------------------
          However, it is one system that with other similar systems, governs
          the behaviour of a good part of the rest of the world so it can
          hardly be totally ignored no matter what the context.

          I've made the point before -- after a similar expression of what
          can't be done in China -- that pushing a barrow is not the same as
          merely discussing the contents of the barrow. For instance,
          Universities are quite happy with those western teachers (who are so
          inclined) to give presentations on the Christmas story or the
          christmas story, but they will not allow them to hold church
          services in the school hall. There is a big difference and if
          foreign teachers are too stupid to know the difference then they
          deserve to get into trouble.
          You are correct that we need to be sensitive to certain matters but
          the ideas that there are spooks following us around recording our
          every word is a little outdated, and being sensitive is not the same
          as falling into a quivering heap every time someone mentions the
          Falun Gong or human rights or Tibet or democracy or capitalism
          or..... Yes there have been stories (usually several years old),
          about over-reaction of some schools to certain presentations by
          teachers, but even that does not necessarily reflect official
          policy. Rather, it can often be put down to the sort of individual
          opinions/intolerance that often causes major arguments in western
          education systems.

          TonyL
        • john pullen
          Your last few paragraphs sum up my meaning better than my explanation. I do not advocate skipping discussion of items or removing all references to them, but
          Message 4 of 26 , Dec 4, 2003
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            Your last few paragraphs sum up my meaning better than my explanation. I do
            not advocate skipping discussion of items or removing all references to
            them, but it shouldn't be the focus.

            I don't have the original posting, but it indicated to me that there was a
            lack of knowledge about other legal systems including China's system, while
            indicating that this film to be used was going to focus on several aspects
            of a foreign legal system. The film was then to be discussed and analyzed
            over value systems and the legal aspects that are surfaced. Should it be
            the case that the original poster is teaching in a law program or to judges
            and other legal experts, then I might think the focus of the film is
            appropriate and will help everyone learn English vocabulary, Western
            Cultural concepts and a foreign legal system with its underlining value
            system. If this is a university class on Western culture, Western values,
            it may also be a good medium for discussion.

            Without any clarification by the original poster, except that they were
            teaching in China and teaching English, my feeling is that the choice of
            films is so extensive that to try to provoke a controversy within a foreign
            country isn't appropriate. One shouldn't steer clear of topics just to be
            politically correct, but one shouldn't throw dirt in another's face either.

            john

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          • peter neu
            Yes there have been stories (usually several years old), about over-reaction of some schools to certain presentations by teachers, but even that does not
            Message 5 of 26 , Dec 4, 2003
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              Yes there have been stories (usually several years old),
              about over-reaction of some schools to certain presentations by
              teachers, but even that does not necessarily reflect official
              policy. Rather, it can often be put down to the sort of individual
              opinions/intolerance that often causes major arguments in western
              education systems.

              TonyL

              ______________________________

              Tony:

              I posted the original about 12 Angry Men. I thought your response to
              another reply to my original was astute. In fact, the above is what I
              am trying to address in class as necessary subject matter for "Oral
              English." What is discourse, and is it really at all possible, in the
              face of rigidity and intolerance? The film is simple and clear, with
              some crystalline character development and perfomances. (In fact, it
              verges on becoming a Fonda sermon against bigotry and verbal
              bullying.) With it and the discussions we are doing, I am expecting --
              and getting -- the kids to think and take positions on what I would
              call an ethics of argumentation.

              E.g., what is the difference between saying or even implying to
              someone:
              "I know better than you so be quiet and listen to me," and,
              "It seems we disagree, so can we talk about this? Now, who should talk
              first?" on the other?

              The hero in the film, and, in fact, all the jurors, "win" because one
              of them at the beginning insists on keeping the possibility of
              discourse open, rather than sending an accused boy to the electric
              chair on the basis of poorly examined evidence. So, I have to teach
              the English word: "evidence". Teaching this word could have been
              interpreted as subversive in Nazi Germany, and in the U.S. in
              some "national security" contexts in the '50s and '60s. I think my
              Chinese students are ready.

              --
              peterneu@...
            • Steve
              ... Steve, The above pronouncement is not correct. It should be You MUST teach pronunciation. Your self-value as a teacher will serve you better than the
              Message 6 of 26 , Dec 4, 2003
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                -----Original Message-----


                Steve, The above pronouncement is not correct. It
                should be "You MUST teach pronunciation." Your
                self-value as a teacher will serve you better than the
                appreciation of your school's boss for not rocking the
                boat. Teach pronunciation, and anything else that you
                feel will improve your students' English language
                skills. Remember, the Tao sees all, and will reward
                in kind.

                Nelson Bank


                I agree entirely, but when de head honcho speaks, I have to do. I may sink
                he is talking complete hu hua, but I am just a lowly functionary who will
                continue to teach pronunciation by stealf.
                Zis is zer way it will be, and I don't care if he comes to me with hees sum
                in his mouse begging me to stop.

                Anyway, I was doing body parts again today, and getting the kids to shout
                out parts of the body while others pointed to them at the front of the
                class. They were going long nicely shouting out "hand" "heed" "fooooot"
                etc., when I hear from somewhere behind me "ARSE"! The boy in question had
                found it on his electronic dictionary, but did not know to which part of the
                body it referred. At least he got the correct (British) pronunciation.
                Perhaps I am doing something right here!

                Steve
                Hechuan, Chongqing
              • Searles
                Anybody with some ideas is welcome to tell me how I can fill 40 minutes a week for each class. Steve, I would likely use TPR and play Simon Says and Do the
                Message 7 of 26 , Dec 4, 2003
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                  "Anybody with some ideas is welcome to tell me how I can fill 40 minutes a
                  week for each class."

                  Steve, I would likely use TPR and play Simon Says and Do the Hokey Pokey
                  with both groups. The middle schoolers probably would need some review of
                  body parts. You can give commands at first, then ask class members to give
                  you commands--they love it!! Make it fun: Stand up, Sit down, open the
                  door, erase the blackboard, draw a tree on the blackboard, draw a girl on
                  your hand, point to someone who's wearing red, point to someone wearing
                  glasses, stand on one foot, put your pen on your head (drill on your head v.
                  in your hand), put your book on your partner's shoulder, put your pen in
                  your book, pat your head, rub your stomach, pat your head AND rub your
                  stomach . . Etc. I work on prepositions this way and on listening, first
                  and speaking second.

                  Teach a few songs and jazz chants to each group. It will accomplish many
                  things, including pronunciation practice. Christmas carols are in now. I
                  find that it takes about an hour to teach a carol, look up the words, talk
                  about the meaning, etc.

                  For the younger ones, pass the orange to music is fun--then "it" must answer
                  a question from you or perform an action: bounce the ball, catch the ball (I
                  take a small soft ball or kush), pass the ball to Mary, point to your chin.
                  If she can't, you ask the next until one answers correctly. Then orange
                  begins there on the next round.

                  To get them thinking in English, try writing "all the words you know" on the
                  board. Start with "A" and write down all the words they can shout out.
                  Then ask them to use each word in a sentence.

                  At the beginning of every class, ask "What's the date?" and "What day is
                  it?" and distinguish the two. Work on "third, fourth, fifth and sixth"
                  especially for those "th" sounds.

                  Sing the months to Frere Jacques: January February (Jan Feb) March April May
                  (Mar Ap May) June July and August (June Jul and Aug), September, October,
                  November, December.
                  Sing the days of the week to Clementine: Sunday Monday, Tuesday Wednesday,
                  Thursday Friday, Saturday; Sunday Monday . . . .etc)

                  Do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division on the board to give
                  them practice with numbers. Introduce those terms and "equals" and do times
                  tables, etc. to get them thinking in English and not translating.

                  Maybe I'm starting too easy for your group, but I find that few middle
                  schoolers can quickly respond to TPR commands--they need the listening
                  practice, responding practice, and the getting used to your accent practice.
                  Their own pronunciation will begin to improve when they hear what you do.
                  And DO mention the "th" sounds occasionally ;-)

                  To get the older kids talking with each other, write easy questions working
                  on "Did you" or something on small pieces of paper. Have them mingle and
                  ask questions, exchanging the question with their partner and moving on at
                  the end of the Q&A. I find that some actually start speaking English at
                  this point and may have a converation about something else. They love
                  mingling and need you only to whisper "English only" when they start
                  speaking in Chinese.

                  Hope some of these help. If not, I've got more.
                  Liz in Chengdu
                • Michael Butler
                  Dear Steve, I support a teacher s right to determine what is best for his students and arrange his class accordingly. I also know from direct experience how
                  Message 8 of 26 , Dec 5, 2003
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                    Dear Steve,

                    I support a teacher's right to determine what is best
                    for his students and arrange his class accordingly. I
                    also know from direct experience how pointing out a
                    student's faults (in Asia) can imply that other
                    teachers have failed in their jobs. In a school you
                    are a part of a group and you need to understand that
                    your actions, your decisions, and your criticisms of
                    students can reflect back on the entire group.

                    This could be what your "principal" was reacting to
                    when he asked you to stay away from correcting these
                    kinds of mistakes. They tend to show other teachers
                    and the school in a bad light. Very few principals
                    anywhere are willing to accept a new teacher that
                    throws the school in a bad light.

                    I agree with John Pullen. For now just relax and enjoy
                    the kids. But try not to put yourself in a similar
                    employment position in the future. Find a school that
                    welcomes your zeal for hunting out and eliminating
                    mistakes.

                    I should also mention that (IMHO) it is probably
                    easier to teach correct pronunciation with words that
                    haven't already been taught rather then trying to bend
                    back into shape words that are already twisted.

                    Once they get the pronunciation right you can
                    backtrack and help them apply these new skills to old
                    misshapen words.

                    Michael
                  • Steve
                    Liz, Thanks for all your suggestions, some I may be able to use to make life easier here. I have done body parts and what s in the bag to teach some new words,
                    Message 9 of 26 , Dec 8, 2003
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                      Liz,

                      Thanks for all your suggestions, some I may be able to use to make life
                      easier here. I have done body parts and what's in the bag to teach some new
                      words, I was moving on to attack the "th" sound when I was banned from
                      teaching pronunciation.

                      This is crazy, as if I write "th" on the blackboard and ask them what it
                      says, I get "ssss" back. This is what they have been taught. Crazy bonkers.

                      I have found some kids looking in dictionaries under the desk. When I
                      approach, they hide them. I have finally found out that they are not allowed
                      to use dictionaries!!! If I see a kid using a quill pen, I do not think I
                      will be surprised. Terrible crazy bonkers.

                      One of the Americans will be leaving after this term, so I will take his
                      senior classes which I am much better suited to. At least they can
                      understand me. I was also offered a job by the local university today, so my
                      days of enduring the madness here are numbered.

                      You are not too far away, so you are welcome to come by for afternoon tea.
                      Do you know of any good Christmas parties in the area?

                      Steve
                      Hechuan, Chongqing
                    • peterneu
                      Hey Teachers: I m presenting a paper on teaching ESL with Film at a conference in Hong Kong this summer, and would appreciate comments beforehand. It s about
                      Message 10 of 26 , Jul 1, 2004
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                        Hey Teachers:

                        I'm presenting a paper on teaching ESL with Film at a conference in Hong
                        Kong this summer, and would appreciate comments beforehand. It's about 5
                        pages -- too big to put onto the list -- but I'd send a copy to anyone
                        willing to read, and, perhaps, offer comments / advice. Please let me know
                        at the address below, if so.

                        Peter
                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                        peterneu2002@...
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