ESL teaching is a profession that requires the teacher to be super adaptable, meanwhile always improving their teaching techniques. Teaching ESL to Chinese kids is even harder. As native English speakers, we don’t give much thought to the English language. Not until we attempt to teach it that is. Simply standing in front of your class and talking in English the way you like isn’t going to cut it. If you want to truly help your Chinese students learn English, you’ll have to know how to think more like them.
That doesn’t mean you need to speak Chinese either, however, there are some things you should understand about their native language that will help you teach them. Here are 10 tips for teaching english to Chinese students:
English emphasizes a subject, verb, and usually an object. But in Chinese, the subject isn’t necessary in many sentences.
2. Word order
Older students will get frustrated when they try to translate word-by-word. Encourage them not to do this as things can get lost in translation.
3. He, she, and it
In English, we have pronouns for these things. In Chinese, they do as well but they only vary in written character form. They sound the same when spoken though (it’s “ta” in case you’re wondering). Be patient with them as they try to learn the difference between he, she, and it.
Chinese doesn’t have plurals. They place a number word before the noun or even use the equivalent of “many.” So when you add an “s” to something, it is a whole new concept for them.
5. Verb tenses
Look at the English language long enough and you’ll see why it’s so confusing to learn as a non-native speaker. Verbs can get really tricky, and for Chinese students, even more so. Chinese verbs don’t change, but rather, like plurals, there are ways to add a time expression or a verb particle. Conjugating verbs is very challenging for Chinese students when they’re first learning English.
There’s many more things that will trip up your students, but you can help add more value to your lessons by doing more than simply teaching out of the book and following your lesson plan. Here are some ideas.
6. Show them movies
Your school will not be happy if you do this every day, but by showing your students English movies, you give them much more than just stilted conversational practices in the classroom. They get to see the facial expressions, catch on with the music, and laugh when something is funny. Use subtitles at the bottom for beginners. Make sure to choose age-appropriate movies though.
7. Teach them a song
Songs aren’t just for little ones. Granted, the older kids might feel strange singing the alphabet song, teaching them some kind of song will help them learn while having fun doing it.
8. Use digital stories
There are great programs that allow you to visually represent a story as you read along to the class. They also have interactive ones that you can let your students explore with. These are wonderful ways to get them to learn English hands-on.
9. News you can use
And finally, for older students, you can engage them with news stories that are specifically written for ESL students. It not only helps them with their English but gives them perspective on the world around them.
10. Be creative and patient
The list could go on and on, you can always add your own creative flare to the class, remember, this is your stage for great things to happen. It will take a long time to see the improvement of your students, but it’s all worth the effort.