Teaching English in China at school is becoming easier and you are getting into the flow of things, especially regarding lesson planning and creatively making materials for class. As always, somewhere, somehow in some of your classes, you will face a problem or two concerning some of your students.
LIFEHACK #1 – BEFRIEND YOUR CHINESE ASSISTANTS
Whether it’s behaviour-wise or translation services being needed, you need your Chinese assistant in class to help you out.
From what I’ve experienced, most of them feel like pure translators and the go-to person for when parents have questions or comments. Sometimes their lives can be incredibly stressful, and as they do not always have the advantages foreign teachers have. One day off a week from work can be a very normal thing in certain places. Imagine having only Saturday to rest and being back at work on Sunday! How crazy is that? Would you feel happy and content knowing other people around you are experiencing more benefits even if they are not from your home country? I know I would not be too impressed.
He or she will be the one listening to you moan about Jason who needs to complete his homework before coming to class and “Remember to tell his parents they need to help him review, please!”. Usually, when you develop a good working relationship with your Chinese assistant, problems are sorted out much quicker and they are more eager to engage and assist you with the lesson and the students’ learning. They are more than just simple translators. They are a security blanket for young learners and for parents who do not speak any English. They need to be able to manage kids, parents and teachers all day, making sure everyone is happy. Engaging with them and being friendly and helpful will only help you in return!
LIFEHACK #2 – INVOLVE THE PARENTS
At my institute, we have an open lesson for parents to come and observe what their children have learned thus far every couple of months. I always ask parents to observe closely and leave me constructive criticism so that I can work on improving my skills and know what they are looking for when it comes to their child’s language development and learning.
The parents are probably paying quite a sum of money to have their child attend extra English lessons. Apart from letting them watch a few open lessons here and there every couple of months, it is a good idea to involve them a bit more and make them feel like they are being listened to and that their opinion is important too. If you involve them and ask for constructive criticism from their side, I can almost guarantee that you will receive good advice and positive feedback, especially if you are still new in the teaching world.
LIFEHACK #3 – UNDERSTAND THE CHINESE WORK ETHIC
How is this possibly a teaching life-hack? You will soon realize that the Chinese folks are extremely active when it comes to academic development. All those Chinese memes on the internet about parents being angry at a child for not achieving 100% on test scores – it’s a real thing.
If you understand your students and their busy schedules, you will learn how to cultivate your lessons in a specific way for them to learn while having a bit of fun at the same time. Making English-learning fun is probably the greatest tool an ESL teacher should have in his or her toolbox. FUN – all kids need it, especially Chinese kids.
So there you go. In my three months here, I’ve learned these three important concepts very quickly. Implementing them has made my classes more enjoyable not only for the students, but for myself as well. I know I have a lot more to learn about teaching during my contract here, but I cannot wait to jump right into it and delve a little deeper!