How to engage your Chinese students

Wondering how to engage your students? Read these five tips and find out how to organise interactive and fun classes in China
6 Sep

Teaching English in China – How to Engage Your Students

Whether you will be standing in front of a classroom with 40 students at a public school or in front of a small group of students at a private school, students who are engaged will learn in a more constructive way. Here are five tips to engage your students and help them to remember vocabulary, understand why learning English is useful and simply have fun.

Tip #1: Get Creative
Most schools will provide you with a textbook and teaching materials. Do not feel limited by the exercises in the textbook only. Of course you can use them, but you will definitely attract the students’ attention when you put some creativity into your approach. Sing, color and dance! Make a colouring worksheet into a listening exercise to practice colours, dance and sing to ‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes’ to practice body parts and let students label drawings of their house with the vocabulary they just learned.

Tip #2: Let the Students Decide
Good teachers listen to their students. You can ask students to write down their favourite language-related activities on a scrap of paper, such as writing a story together or making a movie. Put the scraps of paper in one box. At the end of every class you can take out a scrap of paper and put the idea into practice during the last half hour of your next class. Alternatively, you can prompt the students with ideas. What would you like to do for our next ‘real life lesson’? Baking hamburgers, brownies or spaghetti? When your students have decided on an activity together, they will be more engaged.

Tip #3: Organise Competitions
Competition is one of the methods to get Chinese students going. Whenever they can get a ‘number one position’, they go for it. Who can write down the alphabet from z-a the quickest? Who can guess this hangman sentence? It all works great. Make sure they compete on a group basis or at least in pairs, otherwise individual students may get too disappointed and upset. Most of them are not used to be evaluated individually.

Tip #4: Be Diverse
Another Pictionary game? The same song again? Students get bored easily with the same kind of activities. Try to avoid repetition and bring in new games and activities on a regular basis. Of course you can connect this to the topic you are teaching. Real life material can also be very engaging. Older Chinese students will like to see English magazines to see what they understand, younger ones will have loads of fun with a box of clothing items when practicing clothing vocabulary.

Tip #5: Create a Comfortable Environment
For some students using English may be out of their comfort zone. To stimulate them to take part in class activities, they should feel comfortable in your classroom. Allow them to make mistakes, focus on the achievements of your students and praise them a lot. Slowly, they will grow confident and that will affect their learning in a positive way.

To be able to engage your students will not only improve their English skills, it will also make your classes more interactive and more fun. And who will also benefit from that? You will! At times, it is so rewarding to teach, you will forget it is an actual job.

Written by Puck Stamps, Program Consultant at China Plus

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