Teaching English as a second language at Acadsoc, things to know ahead (Part 1)

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Acadsoc, Ltd. Online English courses provider.

Acadsoc, Ltd. Online English courses provider.
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Teaching English can be both rewarding and exhilarating in so many ways. And as with all kinds of professions, there never goes a day where teaching English doesn’t present struggles to the teacher. In some ways, this means dealing with the most common problems a teacher faces in the classroom.

A good teacher, a good online English teacher, must not only be good at English but overcome the negative effect of cultural difference.

Supervisors at Acadsoc always tell teachers to put themselves into student’s shoes, but only a few teachers can really hit such requirement. Why? Please ask yourself, how can you put yourself in other’s shoes if you don’t even know the color, size, weight… of the shoes that someone would prefer.

Ask yourself several questions before conducting online English classes to Chinese students:

Chinese Education systemThe schooling system in China is the same as most countries, 6-3-3-4, or the Prussian system. 6 years in elementary school, 3 years in lower secondary school, 3 years in upper secondary school and 4 years in university. The government will cover the tuition fees of elementary and lower secondary schools under a nationwide compulsory free education policy and education law.

However, the fierce competition to win has started from the preschool era. Did you ever meet any student aged under 6?

As research, about 35% of the urban families spend 500-1000 Yuan per month and 10% of the urban families spent more than 1000 Yuan per month for the preschool education of their kids in 2015[i]. Whilst the average disposable income per month for urban residents was only 2800 Yuan in 2016. Now you shall see the determination and emphasis of Chinese parents on education, especially after school tutoring.

The enrollment rate of elementary school and lower secondary school in China has respectively hit 98.88% and 100% by 2016. However, the situation looks different when it is out of the coverage of compulsory education, the enrollment rate of high schools and universities only hit 87.5% and 42.7%. These statistics seem abstract? Just imagine: First, you will have to compete against more than 10 million people of your age for an opportunity to enter high school and more than 1.75 million players will lose. And then, Competing with more than 8 million people of your age to enter university and roughly half of you will lose the chance to get in a university. I suppose you may understand the cruel situation now for Chinese students who are having your classes. [ii]

Some of them may be lucky enough to study abroad in the future, however, by 2016, as recorded by Chinese Education Institute, only 540 thousand students were studying abroad. You are welcome to compare this number to any other numbers listed in the previous paragraph.

Chinese student in the classIn China, ‘teacher’ has become a noble position from roughly 1000 years ago in Song Dynasty. As proposed by Confucian School, teachers are like fathers and students shall follow whatever they say.  Teachers shall not only teach knowledge but more importantly, the sense and principles of human beings.

Every time when a student meets a teacher around the campus, they will have to stop, nod or bow to greet the teacher, especially when the student is taking courses with this teacher. And students are not allowed to call their teacher’s name directly without any title. It shall be, in Chinese, ‘XXX老师(老师means teacher, XXX stands for the family name, not the first name)’. That’s why Chinese student would prefer to call you ‘Teacher XXX’ instead of ‘XXX’. However, in America,  you can call straight the first name of your teacher without any title if you have a pretty good relationship.

As for engagement and in-class interaction between teacher and student in China, there are very strict rules for that. Students are not allowed to say anything in the middle of a class, no matter it is a gossip or discussion about the class material, rumours, interesting stories, etc. Only when the teacher authorizes someone to stand up and speak, the student will be able to say something. Usually, students have to raise their hands before receiving such allowance from the teacher. And mostly, such engagement is to answer questions or say something that the teacher wants you to say, not any free talk or to express your mind.  If anyone dares to challenge this rule, keep talking and making noise in the class, he/she will be kicked out of the classroom by the teacher to maintain the order in the classroom.

As an online English teacher, you may design some exams or mocks in your class for your Chinese student sometimes or follow the exams as given by our teaching material. However, those are not even a comparison to the English exams taken in their schools.

Chinese ExamsUsually, students will have mid-term and final exams in elementary, middle and high schools. Mid-term exam is, of course, less important than the final exam. The scores of final exams in different subjects mean a lot to Chinese students and their family. For instance, the winter semester finished before Chinese New Year, will determine how many compliments and New Year’s red pockets the kid will receive during the Spring Festival to some extent.

The one who succeeded in hitting the NO.1 will be set as a model for other families to motivate or even force their kids to study harder. Whilst the students who ranked 2nd and 3rd will have to work harder to compete for the gold medal next time, no matter spontaneously or not, in the coming holiday via self-studying or afterschool tutoring. And of course, the ones who ranked last in the list…let’s just finger cross for them.  If you don’t mind, try to ask your students if they are still schooling: what is your rank among classmates in your latest English exam? And then, you shall be able to find something interesting.

All the questions in their English paper are carefully regulated and generated, which means there will be very limited room for students’ answers going beyond the expectation of examiners. Especially in English writing tasks, please do not even suppose it to become a place where one can express yourself. No, they are all set, including on what topic to discuss, to use which vocabularies, what kind of grammar shall be used, maximum word count, following what kind of subsequent/logic, etc. Sometimes the topic will be ‘Please state your opinion on XXX’ and don’t be misled. The structure, length, even the content of your opinion are already restricted in advance. What students need to do is to try their best to memorize and then copy the knowledge that their teachers want them to.

Continued Reading: Chinese classroom culture.

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春节快乐! Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year Online English teachers at Acadsoc



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