As a parent and Chinese teacher, I often heard that learning Mandarin Chinese was boring.
If you have a chance to attend a weekend Chinese school graduation ceremony, you might find : The higher the grade, the fewer students. Many students just dropped out before they finish the complete Chinese learning program.
There are several reasons attributed to this phenomenon. For example, outdated textbooks, few qualified Chinese teachers, insufficient teaching resources and facilities etc.
Especially, many Chinese teachers didn’t receive formal teaching training in English speaking countries. When it comes to teach Chinese, they just teach in a traditional way that they learned as a student in Chinese speaking countries and areas.
However, English speaking students are not used to that kind of traditional teaching methods. No wonder, they feel bored.
In this post, I try to share some of my tips with Chinese teacher fellows. I hope these tips are helpful to some teachers.
1. Know your students well.
When I was trained as an editor and journalist, I was told that I had to know my readers well. Once I know my readers well, I have the big chance to provide the content that my readers really need.
This rule also applies to teaching. If you wish to create an interesting lesson, you have to know your students well.
Different students have different needs. As a teacher, we have to create different teaching materials to fulfill different needs.
A preschool student might like a fluffy animal talk show, however, if you display an animal toy in front of a group of undergraduates and talk to the toy like a little kid, I am sure your undergraduate students will laugh all the time.
That is why I suggest you, the teacher, to spend some time to know your students. Once you have a better idea about your students, you will have a good start to create an interesting lesson.
2. Write a lesson plan.
No matter how busy you might be, no matter how many times you teach the same lesson over and over, I suggest you to write a lesson plan every time before you start to teach.
A lesson plan is a good guide. It doesn’t need be too detailed, however, at least it provides some outlines, so you know the teaching steps in advance before you walk into the classroom.
You might teach a same textbook for many years, it is still necessary to write some simple teaching notes. It is because your students are different every year. You need different teaching methods.
Be creative. Try to come up some interesting activity ideas. No matter how boring the textbook might be, at least you have the power to make your teaching as interesting as it can be.
When you design the teaching activity, don’t forget to give the student some power to enjoy the learning. That means, you need design some activities to have the student lead the learning. For example, assign one or several students to be a leading reader, have the students do a team work to design a mini lesson, have the whole class to tell a funny story etc.
Once students realize they have the right and power to participate the teaching instead of being taught passively all the time, they will be more willing to learn.
3. Create a dynamic pace.
Teaching is an art. Like any forms of art, a good lesson has to be dynamic and balanced. When you teach, you have to make sure students have some quiet learning time and some active fun time.
If a student spends too much time on quiet learning, they will feel tired and bored. After the quiet learning time, try to follow up some fun activities to have students move around.
For young kids, doing some body actions is always welcomed. For older students, some fun activities like mini dramatic performances and partner interviews work very well.
Guess what, students can still learn the language when they do the fun activity.
4. Be passionate.
As I mentioned, teaching is an art. When you walk into the classroom, you are not just a teacher. You are a director, an actor and a speaker. You are an artist.
If you are boring, no wonder your teaching is boring. If you are passionate, your teaching will be passionate .
Students will feel your passion. Once they feel your passion, they will feel the connection. Once they feel connection, they will be passionate about the learning.
That is why some students start to love learning Mandarin Chinese once they met an interesting teacher.
Outside of the classroom, you might be a quiet person. However, when you stand in the classroom, you have to be energetic. You have to immerse yourself in your teaching. This is your show time.
Believe me, your passion about Chinese teaching is the main reason why your lesson is always interesting.