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Angel's Growth =)
Zhuan Xin's Page
As an English learner:
My learning experience of English began when I was in the third grade in elementary. To this day, I didn't remeber what I have learned in school. The only thing that I can only remember is the vocabulary about color. So it's not until the fifth grade, the time I went to an English cram school for children, that I started to learn English systematically. The time that I spent in the cram school is really memorable, for I could not only have a lot of achievement during the learning process but make new friends as well. I guess it is because of this period of time that motivates me to become an English teacher in the future.
However, after I enter the junior high school, English classes became nightmare for me. It was not because the lessons were too difficult, but because I had a hard time getting accustommed to my English teacher's teaching method. So I pick up much less new knowledge in school in the three years of junior high. Due to this, I started to have the habit of reading English magazines lest my English ability not improve. Fortunately, as I enter the senior high, my English teachers taught a lot of new grammer, vocabulary and many other things about English. So I began to have interest in exploring the world of English again. Also, during the three years of senior high, I met several classmates of mine who spoke English really fluently, which surprised me considerably at that time. But I guess that also prompts me to study English harder as well.
The English classes in college are completely different from what I have recieved in the past, and I find that English can be used in much more ways than I have imagined before. So I really enjoy taking all the courses of English Department now, and have more motivation to study it.
As an English teacher:
I was an English teacher in a cram school for junior high students. In some semesters, I taught English to them and help them with their English simulated tests; in other sememsters, I acted as a teacher for them to ask questions about English. In the beginning, I really enjoy this kind of life and even decided to run an English cram school on my own. However, after I know more and more students, I found that this is not the life I want to lead for my whole life. For a lot of students say that they feel a lot of pressure when learning English in cram schools. Under the social stress and parents' expectation, which are not easy to be swayed, it's hardly possible for students to learn English at their own pace. So they can't help but trying to catch up with others' paces. This is one of the reasons why I changed my mind from running a cram school on my own to be a teacher in high school.
In this week's leture, we discussed several teaching methods and the merits and disadvantages of them. Among them, the method "TPR," total physical response, is the one that I consider most difficult to apply in teaching junior and senior high student. There are several reasons coming to my mind. In the beginning, adolenscents like junior and senior high students hate to be commanded by others, especially by those who are regarded as "authorities" by them. Thus, I'm afraid that if I use TPR in my class, I may annoy the students and undermine their motivation of learning English. In addition, TRP focuses a lot on verbs and have much less attention on other part of a foreign language. Therefore, students do not have enough time to do other drills and other abiities such as speaking and writing. What's more, it is likely that students in high schools, who suffer from pressure of entrance examinations, would consider it waste of time to practice English in this way. For the reasons above, actually, I am still unable to come up with approaches to adapting TPR a better method in teaching English in senior and junior high.
How about narrating a play and having other students act it out:
Narrator: Romeo walked across the garden stealthily. He was very afraid the Capulet soldiers would catch him. He hid behind a tree and peered up at Juliet's balcony. Romeo saw Juliet walk out onto the balcony. She looked so sad.
Narrator: Juliet said, "Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo.
Juliet: Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo.
You can have the students write out the descriptions of the action, or the stage directions that the actors are supposed to act out.
Thank your for your suggestion! Acting out a play is probably a good way for high school students to practice. Also, they might have delight in performing!
The attachment above is the powerpoint that I showed in class on Oct. 10th.
This week, we talked a lot about how ages influence students' learning. Generally speaking, there are two topics that interest me most. The first one is the topic on five-year-old to seven-year-old children. According to the teacher's lecture and the mateirals on the textbook, logic of children at these ages are based on order. Therefore, they are still unable to understand what does it mean by saynig terms like "before" and "after." Before the lecture, I did have heard that children can't not tell order of time correctly in their little ages; however, I've never thought that it would have such a great impact on them.The other point is the topic on variety and rountines in class. Since I am a student who can learn more efficiently in a fixed learning environment before college, I used to consider it better for teacher to set their teaching style. However, after I entered college and found that there are much more ways of learning and teaching English, I began to be skeptical of my past viewpoint. Especially when I took a part time job and worked as a teacher for junior high students last semester, I found it really hard to make all of them focus on what I am teaching if I only keep giving lectures. As a result, although it may takes me more time in preparing lectures after I do become a teacher, I will try to think more activities which makes my class more appealing to students.
In the class of this week, every group performed their play that designed to teach children. By watching my classmates' performance, I surprisedly found that how bland my group's performance was. My group only acted out the play and use some simple props; however, the others prepared not only exquisitely-made props but appealing ask-and-response questions for children as well. Actually, I was quite disappointed by my uncreative after watching others' plays and how they lively gave their lectures. I am not sure whether it has something to do with my traditional learning background. However, to look on the bright side, it was a really good chance to see my own shortcomings in giving lectures, for only when I compared my own lectures to those of others could I know where I should improve. In the past, I alwasys wondered why students seemed so bored in my class (I was a junior high teacher in cram school last semester). But now, it seems that I come to figure out the problem gradually.
I addition to that, the activity of giving post-its to others is quite enjoyable. Although some of the post-its are flattering-like, it is still a good approach for students to have a better understanding of how others view ourselves. Also, for English learners, this activity can make them understand the fact that English is not what just for exams; instead, it is a tool that they can use to interact with people. One of the main reason that some students are afraid of English or even hate English is probabely due to the horrible exams. I was once trapped in this fear in senior high since I could not get a grade high enough . At that time, I even doubted my English proficiency level for several times. I believe that numerous students in Taiwan have had that kind of fear before, which caused them to start their defense machenism against English. It hits upon me that if the education of English in primary schools and junior high schools can go faster, and the level difference in junior high and senior high can be less, students may have a stronger motivation to learn English throughout their lives.
During the discuss in this week's class, there are two aspects that impressed me most. One it about the inductive and deductive approach, and the other is about the student talk and teacher talk. Inductive and deductive approaches was favored by different kinds of teachers and are more appropriate for children at different ages. In Taiwan, most teachers use deductive approach in their teaching English and few of them use inductive approach as well. One of the main reasons is that they do not have enough time for students to figure out grammar rules in class, and therefore, they are forced to use deductive in their class.It occurred to me that perhaps it is also a crucial factor that makes students in Taiwan have the habit of keeping quiet in class. During the process of my pursuit of studies so far, I find that most of my classmates are accustommed not to expressing their opinions and raising questions in class even though teacher always ask us whether we have questions. Actually, I was one of those kinds of people and I do not change for a little bit this habit until I enter college. Since most teachers give lectures during the whole class in elementary schools, junior high and senior high, some students even gradually consider it teachers' responsibitliy to "run the class". However, from another aspect, if teachers in Taiwan do not use the deductive approach so frequently, it is much less likely that students can learn so many different subjects before they enter college. As a result, there are pros and cons for both approaches. When to adopt inductive and when to adopt deductive depend on language proficiency and ages of students; therefore, there is not a certain answer to this question. This reminds me that before I design my lectures, having a better understanding of students in one of the most vital preparation.In addition to inductive and deductive approaches, the topic on teachers' talk and students' talk also impressed me a lot, or even "shocked" me. I know that in the traditional teaching method, teachera give most of the talking in a class; however, I have never thought that the proportions have so much distance. Just as what the textbook tells me, it is students who have to learn a new language rather than teachers. If students do not have any chances to practice speaking the target language, it is possible that they only know the vocabulary and grammers and do not know how to pronounce words correctly. In the past, I used to think it unlikely to have all students practice in class due to limited lecturing time; however, after starting to learn Japanese this semester, I find that it is not impossible actually. I hope that I can keep this in my mind as long as I am a teacher and create as much opportunities for my students to know that English is not what for exams but a kind of tool making them able to communicate with people around the world.
This was the first time that I demonstrated a lecture on my own by applying what I have learned so far. Actually, the way how I demonstrated in the class is completely different from how I actually give lectures to students in a junior high cram school. When I worked as a teacher who gave review classes to the ninth-grade students, the teaching method that I use for most of the lectures is Grammar Translation Method, the method I have been annoyed since junior high. To be truth, students in my class did not seem interested in English much more due to my lectures even though I tried my best to invoke their motivation. However, I could not figure out any other solution to this situation at that time. For one thing, the owner of the cram school ask me to give them a general review in eight weeks, one hour for each week; in other words, I neededo give lectures on the whole content of English in junior within eight hours. This is almost impossible for me to live up to, which caused the eight hours to be exhausting for both students and myself. The other reason is that it seems that students in Taiwan still cannot easily get accustommed to lectures given by other methods. Therefore, the students focused on details of textbooks and could hardly find any interest in studying English. I even felt that what they concerned most was what might be on the entrace examination and what might not be. So when Michael mentioned the education culture of Taiwan, I did reflect on it for a while. I know it is almost impossible to change the whole culture that has existed for such a long time with a single person's might; however, at least I can change my future students' impressions of what an English class "should be," and maybe they can carry on the idea to the next generation as well.
Some of my classmates presented their demonstration in this class. Among them, Alice's demonstration impressed me most and inspired me to think more about my own demonstration. Upon giving her own demonstration, Alice just like transformed into another person - an energetic and friendly teacher who can always catch young children's eye. In her lecture, I did have a lot of fun and it also reminded me of the way in which I was taught the simple past tense. When I first learned this grammar about ten year ago, my teacher did not mention any terminologies. However, when I looked back on how I taught my student, I felt quite sorry for them because of the boring lecture. Maybe I need to put something interesting into my lecture and make them keep interested in English.
In Alice's demonstration, I found several aspects that I had to improve. First, she seemed to be really natural and she was just like an "elder child" in the classroom. Due to this characteristic, she could play the game with children and know where they have difficulty understanding. Second, her design of the demonstration is appealing not only for young children but also for students of my age. Interaction among students and that among teacher and students play key roles in a successful class, and Alice did make a good job in terms of this. By interacting with students, Alice kept us focused on the lecture and made us feel engaged in the demonstration. Third, she also created a sensepenseful atmosphere that promted us to figure out who the thieves were. It occurred to me that maybe this is a kind of Task-based language teaching. Students who are offered a task usually have a strong inspiration to fulfill it, which facilitates the teaching.
To demonstrate a successful and appealing class, Alice must have paid a lot of efforts to the designing of the lecture. Although it is really tiring for a teacher to dedicate himself or herself to one single hour, I think it pays as long as students can have delight in the lecture and also pick up what is taught.
The main topice we discussed in this week's class is about reading. As a person wanting to become a teacher in the future and as an English learner as well, several aspects mentioned in this chapter are really useful for me. For example, the importance of extensive reading has been emphasized by many professors after I entered NCCU; however, the only thing I know is that this activity can improve my English reading proficiency but I just cannot understand why. In the past, I was really disappointed by seeing words that I did not know the meanings even though I had seen them before. This annoyed me for quite a long time, especially when I was studying literature, for I will stop reading after several passages and look up the words in the dictionary. However, after I get accustommed to reading materials like literature, reading somehow gradually becomes an increasingly easier task for me. Furthermore, I can get more and more pleasure from reading English magazines, newspapers and even novels. This activity is not a "work" for me any longer; rather, I can take more delight in reading now. (But of course, if I have to read a lot of materials during a short peirod of time for exams, it is not a pleasure.) However, having the habit of reading extensively is one of the most difficult goals that high school teachers in Taiwan can acheive. For one thing, students have too many subjects to study, and there is little time left for them to cultivate this habit. For another, to change their stereortype of "reading English passages" takes a long time since students usually have the idea that this activity is only for tests and exams; after they have finished an exam, they are "freed" from reading. One way to solve this is to choose reading materials that they are interested in. Therefore, in the future, maybe I will include Enlgish comic books and popular magazines into my materials for teaching.
In addition, the textbook mentions "authentic texts" as well. Using authentic texts is another way to leave a deeper impression on students because they are associated with students' daily lives. They are not like foreign literature that some students may not have so much interest in and even be afraid of; rather, this authentic texts can make students more confident of themselves since they can apply what they have learned to their everyday lives. This is especially appropriate for little children, for they take a lot of delight in showing what they know to others. In a high school English class, teachers sometimes can make use of this strategies as an alternative way to give lectures more lively. Although it is impossibe to use it all the time, this is still likely to enhance the confidence of those who have worse academic performance.
This week we were divided into four groups: those who would be junior high school teachers, those who would be senior high school teachers and those who wanted to teach elder people. I was in the group of those whose target students are senior high students. During the discussion, I found that there were a lot of details for a teacher to pay attention to when he or she was preparing the teaching materials. For example, when my group members thought about how to make sure that our material about the Flora Expo can indeed "activate" students' learning, I suggested that mabe we could ask them to go to the exhibition and present a report. Although it might seem infuse what they learning in class into their lives, there were a lot of aspects that I had not noticed. For example, some students may consider it annoying to spend such a long time rushing there and squeezing out a paper. Others may think the tickets are too expensive and even consider it a kind of discrimination againt those who are in need.
In addition to the aspect I mentioned in the last paragraph, I also find that I'm really weak in saving the time of preparing mateirals. Almost all the methods I come up with takes me a lot of time and makes me exhausted. I gradually come to doubt that whether what I used to think is a kind of passion or it is just the manifestation of my unability to survive as a teacher. If I will take the occupation as my lifetime means of making my life, I must change the teaching style I try to use to some certain extent. Otherwise, I am afraid that I will lose my passion immediately and will ruin both my career and my future students' interest in English. However, it is still difficult for me to find an approach that strikes a balance between the two. Perhaps I can figure out some more tips in creating a better lecture that will not wear me out but arouse students' motives by degrees in the future.
This week's topic was mainly on how to teach writing and speaking. During the class, I learned a variety of approaches that could be used to enhance students' interest in writing in English and speaking English. For exmaple, when teachers teach writing, they can make use of dictation and completion activity to monitor students' learning; that is, whether students can comprehend what the teacher says or not and whether they are able to write it down. Both the approaches to teaching writing and speaking are divided into three stages: controlled activity, guided activity and creative activity respectively. When teachers use different activities in lectures, they have to assess students' current English proficiency level at first, which is the obstable that I think I may encounter in the future.
Assessing a student's proficiency level is not easy, not to mention those of the whole class. However, for an English teacher, it is necessary to evaluate it in the beginning stage of a series of classes. For one thing, if a teacher cannont assess students' proficiency level appropriately, it will be a challenge to decide what kind of materials can be used in class, and the lecture will seem to unorganized to students. For another, if teachers are not able to evalute properly, it is very likely that they will end in making themselves exhausted and students will find that they learn little knowledge from the class.
In order to assess students' proficiency level more precisely, I may send out questionaires to students and ask them how long they have learned English and how they feel about English. Although the time students spend learning English may not be in proportion to their proficiency levels, it can still function as a signal for me to know how much efforts they have devoted to learning English in the past and what attitudes they may hold toward this subject. Although it may be much more efficient to just give students an English quiz at the very first class and see how well they do, it can also leave a terrible impression on those who are afraid of English. Therefore, this method is what I may not use in the future.
In this class, we presented the ways how we would like to use our coursebook to teach. However, while I was showing and elaborate the activities I wanted to make use of in an English class, there are some problems that I may confront coming to my mind. For example, I put too many trivial activities into the course, which may cause students feel either confused or tired of this topic. Also, for me, novelty plays an vital role in a class; as a result, I come to notice that if I use the same chapter to teach English for several weeks, students are likely to feel boring and the class may end up little achievement with a great number of efforts. In addition, the suggestion that I can ask students to discuss in groups first and present their opinion to the class is a good idea. Otherwise, in Chinese culture, there are few students daring or willing to be the volunteers that share their opinions to the public. In order to decrease their nerve, it is necessary for teachers to come up with some actions to encourage students to speak in English as much as possible. A similar method that my elementary school teacher use is to give extra points to the students who share their opinions in class and invite the ten top students who get the most points to the teacher's home. Nevertheless, as I grow up, although this method also aims to elicit students' volenteering, it can also scare those who are really shy and nervous. If the shyer students do not express their opinions in public, the students cannot get the points; as those students cannot get points, they are not able to have a deeper contact with the teacher and thus the teacher is likely to ignore them much more.
Aside from the aspects mentioned in the previous paragraph, I like the lecture titled "Introduction and address systems" very much. The first reason is that the dialogue is comparatively easy for students, so they can feel much comfortable when listening to it. Secondly, the content of the coursebook is lively and can be practiced in daily life. Whether what students learn can be applied to their daily lives have a lot to do with students' interest in learning a new language, especially for younger students. If they can put what they have picked up in an authentic situation, they not only may be praised by their parents but also have more confidence in themselves. Besides, they can gradually find the reason why they need to learn English and its practical usage. The most crucial reason why I like this article is that the dialogue introduces a question that I have keep in mind for a long time. In the past, it is really hard for me to distinguish English first names from English last names, and sometimes I have no idea when to use the surname and when to use the surname and when to use the given name when I call a person. Teachers can make use of this dialogue to introduce the error that many students make and mention the cultural differences to students, which may motivate students' curiosity in English much more.
Revision of my course design:
During the lecture in this week, we were divided into groups to discuss how to make use of our course book and how we could deisgn our lectures appropriately. The material that my group chose was the topic on the uses of interrogatives and animals. Since it is a topic for beginners, one of the difficulties that we confronted was how to make the lecture lively but teachers could still control the class in the same time. It is neccessary for a teacher to be able to keep students calm down in a short period of time when they are too excited and keep talking; however, teachers have to be careful that it is better to have some kinesthetic activities in their lectures as well to make students awake and engaged.
However, in terms of the settings of classrooms in high schools in Taiwan, I find it not easy for teachers to incorporate some kinesthetic in their lectures. Since classrooms are really dense and students have to spend a lot of time moving their tables and chairs to make some space, a lecture will be divided into several periods. Also, it may be bothering for teachers in the next class. Perhaps in the future, when there are increasingly less students in a class, students can have a better enviroment when they are learning.
The main focus on the lecture in this week was on planning lessons. In addition to the several aspects that had been mentioned in class, there is a point mentioned in the textbook that I find it hard to make good use of - magic moment.According to the definition in the textbook "How to Teach English," magic moments refer to "the events which happen in a lesson which the teacher did not expect and/but which may well be extremely beneficial for the students even though they were not part of the original plan." Since magic moments can happy at any time, teachers should be flexible enough to adapt their lectures to students reactions. However, the difficult that I confront is that I can hardly take advantage of magic moments when I am teaching. For example, one time, when I suddenly found that my tutor students havd had some background knowledge that I presumed she could not had had, it was hard for me to think about how to modify my lecture right away. Therefore, I only taught at a fast pace and tried my best to give her more information at that time.
When I reflect on how I deal with the magic moment at the moment, I find it may be a good chance to compliment my tutor student and make sure whether she does fully understand the grammar or she just remembers part of the grammar. A key solution to the unability to handle magic moments well that comes to my mind is that I need to be as much experienced as I can. As long as I can have more experiences, it is less likely for me to feel shocked when I confront magic moments. Also, I can learn what should not be said when magic moments happen and what I should do instead. Also, another solution is that I can consult my mentor in the future and observe the ways she/he uses to deal with them. Although the approaches my future mentor uses can be inapproapriate, at least I am able to know what comments may be infavorable to students.
During the lecture of this week, we discussed more approaches to adapting the senior and junior high course books and how to make good use of them. However, what interested more is the point that the teacher mentioned in class. In the past, I used to doubt my ability to teach English to students because I am not an English native speaker. I was extremely afraid that students may ask questions that I could not answer immediately, which may undermine their trust of me. If a teacher is suspected by students of his or her profession, it is very likely that students will gradually become unwilling to listen to the teacher's lecture. Therefore, going abroad for further study seemed to be the only way that can ease my anxiousness in the past. However, after hearing of the fact that the proficiency level of an ESL teacher is not that bad as I used to think, I feel much better and more confident of my own. Although there is still a long way to go and a lot to learn before I can eventually become a more professional teacher, the prospect of being a teacher seems not so far away from me any more.
In addition to what I mentioned above, there is a severe bully event on news recently. Actually, one of the reasons why I prefer to teacher students in senior high schools rather than junior high schools is that I have no confidence in dealing with bullies that happen a lot in junior high. Since the junior high that I attended is quite similar to that on the news(though the bullies were not that serious), I have seen several these kinds of events. I am neither experienced enough nor patient enough; therefore, for me now, it is not easy to stand in the shoes of the students who are "abandoned by the society." I am not sure whether I can be more skilled in coping with students' affairs except their schoolwork in the future, but I will still try my best. After all, to arouse students' motivation is one of the most vital concern of being a teacher.
12/31 Reflection of Demonstration
The demo was the first time that I gave a lecture according to the lesson plan my group members planned. During the process of designing the lecture and the demonstration, there was something inspiring whereas I was disapponited with my demonstration to some extent as well.
What encourages my is the lesson plan of my group. I used to consider myself a teacher seriously lacking creation, which makes not only my students easily get bored but myself feel distressed. However, after brainstorming with Zhuan Xin and Veronica, I found that a lecture on high school textbooks could still be appealing to students.
Whether a lecture can be more interesting for students depends on how motivated they are to focus on the lecture. Therefore, if a lecture can be the same lively as if students are participating in a game, they definitely will be more motivated. Gerenally speaking, I come up with two factors that may have influence on designing an interesting lecture: experiences and efforts. Experiences have a great effect on how teachers give their lecture. Some of them have positive influence on teachers, so experienced teachers are apt to pay more attention to students' weakness; however, some may have negative impacts on teachers' lectures, which makes experienced teachers give their lectures as if they are doing some daily rountines. Another factor that influences teachers' lectures is effort, how much they are devoted to teaching. Even though it is impossible for unpracticed teachers to desgin a lesson plan without any shortcomings, they can still fine-tune their lesson plans as long as they are willing to observe their students' learning more carefully and more dedicated to their lectures.
For me now, I am a comparatively unexperienced teacher compared with those in official schools. Although I have the passion to devote myself to teaching and designing lesson plans, what I need to learn much more is about how to make use of every mintute in a lecture more efficiently, or lesson plans will be in vain in the end. After all, my group member spent even more time than a teacher ordinally do. Hence, to be a better teacher in the futrue, it is necessary to learn from experiences of demonstrations and obervations of other teachers.
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