Opinion / Blog

Still learning lessons after years of teaching

By DaqingDevil ( Updated: 2015-05-20 17:11

When I first started classes at Three Bridges English School I was pretty nervous. I took advice from the more experienced teachers and presented classes as best I could.

What's the first thing you learn teaching English in a Chinese classroom? SPEAK MORE SLOWLY. The "speak your native tongue slowly" rule caught me out when I spent a holiday in Hong Kong with my grandsons two years later.

They are both Australian and I was still adopting the “speak slowly” style of communication until one asked me if there was something wrong with me as I was speaking so slowly to them! Oops!

Over 4 years I changed my teaching style enormously. Most importantly, the secret to a good class is meticulous preparation. I spent (and continue to spend) quite a bit of time preparing lessons. I invented new games, even bought a color printer. I also bought A4 magnetic sheets which I cut into pieces and wrote the letters of the alphabet on them. There is no end to word games that you can play when you have this simple, cheap tool.

I printed pictures as well and used them to play 'Concentration'. I stuck full words to the magnets and then we could play sentence games. I learnt how to draw simple things such as animals and items on the board. I spent hours searching English as a Second Language sites on the Internet, learning games and then adapting them to my classes. After 2 years of this and honing my teaching skills I started using Power Point (PPT) and saw just how useful a tool it can be.

In those first 2 years I taught an age range from kindergarten to adults and seemed to do pretty well with them. I was gaining a reputation and a lot of that success was due to well planned lessons. Once I learned PP I spent hours developing lesson plans which meant doing away with using the white board so often. I think writing on the board takes up a lot of teaching time and when you have to teach concepts and ideas rather than vocabulary explaining them can be a little tricky. We were teaching from Cambridge Young Learners books and well as Superkids, New Concept English, Shentong and Interchange 1, 2 and 3. I created my own for subjects like Happy English and Oral English and one on one tutoring. Over the next 2 years, and still continuing, I have adapted all these to PP lessons. It has taken about 3,000 or so hours of work. The PP lessons include video clips that explain concepts, music and dance clips that can be watched, sung to or danced to interactively (or all three), cartoons and lots of Graphics Interchange Formats that are funny and informative and capture the attention of students. I also developed other word games and quizzes using PP. The books pupils are learning from are presented on the projection screen in moving color. Sentences, words, dancing letters, puzzles, explanatory video clips are there in front of them so they are not required to read 90 percent of the time. You can see you have their attention. Their eyes are on you and your presentation!

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