6 Mar 2014

Making Class Fun is Crucial for Student Success

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——-Having a good time with Children encourages them to study

It is important for me to have fun with all my students, and to find out their interests, and also to encourage them to study Chinese more.

As a Native Chinese Teacher, it is essentially my job to run a successful Chinese class that I can share with all my students. I must firstly know how to find out their different interests, and secondly be able to instill important study skills into them.

Despite being Chinese, I have to say that learning Chinese is not at all easy. In my teaching experiences, I found out that children are one of the most special groups of people. They like to change things often, are very excitable, and, learn better when its fun. Also, they learn well through repitition.

Being interesting is crucial to teaching

In my Chinese class, I have to find out what children like and follow it. It is quite important to find out their interests, which vary depending on age, gender, and the living environment. The interesting teacher is the best teacher to guide students to study. This may not be true with most subjects but I have to say that it is true with Chinese.

For example: We were having a class where the sentence was “People are looking”. One child was pretty happy to use a drawing to describe how people are looking. Since then, I encourage him with more hands-on work.

For teaching: What I chose to do is instead of showing him how to write a correct sentence, he types the correct sentence by himself. Then I will correct him after. After trying out this method a few times, I found out it suits him very much.

Benefits: He does not feel bored. For the student, Chinese class is not always about waiting to see teacher’s writing. He doesn’t have to just listen to learn but he can also make correct sentences. Later, he will study correct sentences in Chinese in his own writing. That is very impressive! Also, his brain and hands are working at the same time.. So, I do catch his interest and work it well. We all enjoy this way to study and it makes time fly.

Capturing children’s attention

Of course, in the real class, we could use real fruits, vegetables, and real little animals to draw kids’ attention. These are all good methods to use. But most of time, I am sitting in front of a screen. Especially when the students are age 5 or 6, or even smaller, it is very difficult for teacher to keep the child sitting at the screen for 45 minis. The little screen only shows my face, which makes class really boring.

After finding childrens’ interests, it is important to catch their attention. If I cannot let children touch things,like I can in a face to face class, I can provide colorful pictures instead. I try to stimulate their imagination by quickly showing them cards, and making things pass by rapidly.. Sometimes we imagine we are little different animals, by making loud and low, or strong and soft voices to speak out Chinese.

Benefits: Children must have good eyes to catch cards quickly passing them. They will know they will not have many chances to see the nice pictures. Then what I saw with the special little kids was incredible. Despite turning around in their seats or putting their hands on their heads and faces, their attention was still on me. The quick-cards method made it easy to go on to the next parts of the class.

Keep your class varied and exciting while remaining a language partner

Whether the students are adults or children, nobody likes to be in a bored, expressionless environment. I make my class varied and exciting, while still being a language partner.

Example1: I like to provide an imaginative environment for my students. Let us pretend we are in a Chinese restaurant and we can talk about what you like to order. I will give a fine example: “我要一份烤肉”. I may let students speak out“烤kao3肉rou4”. After that, we know that it is BBQ. “份”is a measure word. “要” is the measure word to say the order, after adding a dish.

Benefits: I can easily change the environment from class and turn it into a restaurant. After that, the children use their imaginations to order all the things they like or their parents or friends like. Students always find something to learn, and then it creates questions about “what is “x” in Chinese? How do you call “x” in Chinese?” All these questions are guiding students to help with their study. Meanwhile, I am the person to support students to get the right words and sentences.

Example 2, pictures a: The other thing to make class fun, is good games. The good games are “finding your colors” where I will prepare some mixed colors in 3 lines. The teacher and student will then call out the colors one by one. Once we meet the special color, we give a loud clap. This game is awesome!.

Benefits: Students are looking at the changing colors, and they have to say the color correctly. They really work their brains, hands and mouth together.

Having a silent teacher-dictionary

Sometimes, I will give some homework. The homework is usually to look up some words or some jokes.

Buy a dictionary. Or use an electronic dictionary, which helps with looking up new words or simply just browsing. Get a beginner’s dictionary so that you can access usage examples and Pinyin pronunciation, all of which are sometimes missing in comprehensive dictionaries. Get a second dictionary later on if you can’t find every word you need. A good choice that provides many example sentences and phrases would be The Starter Oxford Chinese Dictionary ”

With my Montessori teacher background, I always agree with what the creator Maria said about the environment of the class: “nothing may be missing, so that to the child it always seems new, complete and ready for use.” The Montessori teacher also serves as the exemplar in the environment, thus inspiring the child’s own development. This is an important reason for her to strive for flexibility, warmth and love of life, as well as understanding and respect for self, she must be as physically attractive as possible, for in this way she attracts the children’s attention and respect.”

I believe that to use the Montessori method to provide a valuable environment in my class will give all students a nice, interesting, and exciting Chinese class, especially for younger students. Do you like to have a fun studying? Then making class fun is definitely worth it!