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Popularity 8Viewed 1839 times 2017-2-14 16:01 |Personal category:education|System category:Life| education, teacher


"English Teacher" was what I wrote down on my high school classmates' alumni books in the column of dream job. I scribbled it down so many times that I was very sure that was what I would do for a living in the future.

 

For a short period in university, I hesitated regarding this decision. During that time, I was enthralled by the eloquence as well as elegance delivered by outstanding interpreters at press conference. I was simply awed and mesmerized by their compelling performance.

 

After my graduation, I even tried to look for translation and interpretation Jobs but failed. Then, I got an offer of being an tutor in a  language school. This very first job reignited my enthusiasm and passion I once harbored about being an English teacher. The sense of accomplishment I gained from it infused my life with meaning and a cause. Then I determined to help Chinese students learn English well with all my might.

 

I wasn't a qualified teacher then no matter in terms of professional knowledge or class management. Four years study in university was far from enough to help me excel in my job. There was just so much waiting to be discovered and acquired in this English learning field.  In addition, I was a nervous talker and terrible at dealing with people.

 

Still, the newly-found meaning in this career kept me going and motivated me to further my education in the field of English teaching. One and half years later, I came back to this field  better-prepared and more qualified.

 

I don't know why. Somehow, teachers in many language training centers were and probably still are expected to be good at cracking jokes or to have some sort of quality that can make them easy to be labeled or recognized by the students. To some people, the label is great singer or dancer. I have always held mixed feelings with regard to this as I understand on one hand this is beneficial to maintaining students' interest in the class but on the other hand this under most cases doesn't have much to do with the English learning. No matter what, that was a huge hindrance to me given that I would shake all over even when asked to give a talk in front of a small audience let alone telling jokes and being poised at the same time.

 

I once confessed in front of my university classmates during a presentation that I would really like to be a philosophical teacher in the future instead of an ordinary teacher spoon-feeding students knowledge points. I have always wanted to be a teacher who may be able to make a dent in students' life even if it may be a tiny or almost invisible one. So deep down I had never taken to the teaching style adopted by the majority of language schools. I sort of believed that some of them were like clowns rather than teachers.

 

Being an English teacher in my personal opinion is a rather difficult task. I think the premise of a qualified English teacher is that he/she should be equipped with a large enough volume of vocabulary and an ability of clarifying abstract and complicated grammar points. This is the fundamental stuff English teachers are supposed to be armed with. The most difficult part for an English teacher is probably to tell and show students the differences in Chinese and English thinking mode. Chinese one tends to be more generalized while the English one is inclined to be more logical and analytical. (This is from a paper I once read while studying for my master degree. I am sorry for not being able to write down the source as I can't seem to find it.) Because of these differences, adult Chinese learners who tend to translate Chinese into English when asked to speak or write in English invariably make many mistakes and cause misunderstanding. But many Chinese English teachers fail to point these out. Instead, they just apply the pedagogical methodology utilized in teaching Chinese to teach English. So a great number of Chinese students still haven't figured out the standards of English writing academic writing in particular. Students turn in papers with many big words and complex sentence structures. More often than not, native speakers find it impossible to understand what opinions they are trying to express.

 

That said, I have to admit it is not without difficulty to have the realization that the thinking mode of Chinese and English is in fact quite different if not poles apart. It apparently requires professional training and industrious efforts. But this problem can really wait compared with what I am gonna state.

 

Another problem many teachers not just English teachers are encountered with is the exam-oriented education system. Due to this frequently scolded educational system, all the parties involved- students, schools, parents and teachers all attach way too much attention to academic performance. Score is everything to most of them. The rate of first-tier and second-tier university is what really matters to schools. Schools and teachers collaborate together to make sure that rate is as high as possible. They give students false promise that they only need to work hard for three years in senior high school to secure them a position in a prestigious university. Then their future will be as bright as the daylight sun. They instill notions like "It will be like a walk in the park to graduate from Chinese universities." into their students. (This is to a certain extent true. What a shame!)

They simply make it feel like senior high school time is the last time in their life when they need to spare no efforts to fight.

 

Unfortunately, once entering the ivory tower, most students realize that they can't learn much in university if they continue to do what they did in senior high school, attending every class and finishing all the homework in time. Oftentimes, they feel perplexed about future and are at a loss about what they should do with their life. Probably for the first time in life when it comes to studying,  there isn't a clearly right path laying there for them to follow. They have to do this by themselves. Being educated and spoon-fed knowledge for such a long time, a great number of them fail to develop skills relevant to time management, self-discipline and self-learning strategies. As a consequence, many students wind up squandering their time away in university.

When teaching IELTS writing, I was asked by students quite a few times to just teach them fixed templates or fixed sentence structures for introduction or body or conclusion so that they could improve their score within a short period of time. I was invariably disappointed and told them that these won't help them in the long term. Because with no understanding of the standard of English writing, they tend to use these sentences randomly without paying any attention to the logic between different sentences and ideas and therefore their essays are sometimes unreadable. But all they cared about was ready-made answers to their problems.

 

Due to the reform of educational policies, more and more senior high school students are encouraged to pursue vocational education. Some of students told me that in some not so good high schools, teachers would exhaust all the options to convince students to learn an artistic specialty. With that, it will be pretty easy for them to be enrolled into a university. Parents tell their children that as long as they can get a bachelor degree, they don't care what major they study. But most of these students just get a short training on the specialty in a cram school for a few months. Without genuine interest and perseverance training, they fail to find meaning of higher education and it won't lead them to anywhere in terms of their future career.

 

Higher education exists not just to afford us a degree for a decent future job, but more importantly to inspire and to enlighten the next generations to serve this society and world better.

 

I understand every system has its problems and I know it takes time to solve them. But I do hope more and more people can realize the repercussions entailed by the aforementioned issues and try harder to solve them.  

 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)

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Reply Report voice_cd 2017-2-14 16:09
thanks for sharing your story here, we would like to highlight it on the homepage.
Reply Report Min1989 2017-2-14 16:19
voice_cd: thanks for sharing your story here, we would like to highlight it on the homepage.
Yeah~~Thank you for that
Reply Report GhostBuster 2017-2-14 16:36
Your opinion is correct! Being a teacher is not easy. Being an English teacher, the task is greater and heavier. Grammar is one aspect that could be very difficult to explain. Perhaps, A Comprehensive Guide To English Grammar could be conducive in hand.
Reply Report Min1989 2017-2-15 09:26
GhostBuster: Your opinion is correct! Being a teacher is not easy. Being an English teacher, the task is greater and heavier. Grammar is one aspect that could be v ...
Thank you for your comment~~Yeah, I do think a grammar book and a dictionary are necessary.
Reply Report SEARU 2017-2-15 10:24
I think it is important to teach students how to use dictionary as language coach that would save you much energy in class!
Ask your pupil to make few sentences with new words!  That would be more meaningful to explain grammar question since kids learn mother-language without such process!
Reply Report GhostBuster 2017-2-15 14:54
Please try ESSENTIAL GRAMMAR IN USE by Raymond Murphy or Martin Hewings. Cambridge Press is their publisher. Raymond Martin has written a set on it.
Reply Report GhostBuster 2017-2-15 14:59
Today, there is a tendency for most Chinese students to learn English by translation into Chinese. Sometimes, it is hilarious but it may be completely serious mistake. Proverbs in English have been tranlsated into Chinese and in Chinese into English. Unfortunately, not all of them are of equal parallel. This is another aspect that you may wish to look into, so as to enable you have a good understanding of them. Good command of English takes time for majority of the people, even native speakers have problems.
Reply Report Min1989 2017-2-16 10:51
SEARU: I think it is important to teach students how to use dictionary as language coach that would save you much energy in class!
Ask your pupil to make few ...
I totally agree with you. I think teaching students to apply the vocabulary and grammar rules into our writing or speaking is the most important. If students don't know how to use the grammar or words, they will soon forget them even if they understand these when they are explained by their teachers
Reply Report SEARU 2017-2-16 11:25
Min1989: I totally agree with you. I think teaching students to apply the vocabulary and grammar rules into our writing or speaking is the most important. If s ...
I am afraid Chinese teachers and students have wasted too much time on the so-called grammar since  too many people feel difficult to use English!
Reply Report Min1989 2017-2-16 13:27
SEARU: I am afraid Chinese teachers and students have wasted too much time on the so-called grammar since  too many people feel difficult to use English!
What is really ridiculous is that even though techers in high schools spend most of the time on explaining grammar, few students can actually grasp the grammatical rules.
Reply Report Min1989 2017-2-16 13:41
GhostBuster: Today, there is a tendency for most Chinese students to learn English by translation into Chinese. Sometimes, it is hilarious but it may be completely ...
Thank you for sound advice. I will go and check that book. And yes Chinese students should made ware that when they use English, they can't just literally translate their ideas from Chinese into English.
Reply Report shehemego 2017-2-18 20:11
I am a senior now. To some extent, I have resonated with the words you wrote in the blog. Looking back at the two years I have spent in the university, I felt a little bit regretful. So much time I have squandered! And I am a good student in class and after class, paying attention to teachers speaking and finishing all the homeworks on time. Nevertheless, what I've gained from the college education is not so much. I thought I ever had illusion that I was doing well in my past years at college. Hilariously, it is a big "wrong". Honestly, if I retrospect what subjects I have learned in the past two years, I can count out some knowlege or skills I actually have learned from my teacher. But actually, I should not blame everything on my teachers or the university or even the college education system. After all, it's me who have taken so much time to entertain myself or stay lost in all direction and be perverted. So I now tell myself to fight again. Life is so short. But life is so long, too. Building my life is a lifelong thing which won't stop after college graduation. Thanks for your sharing here.
Reply Report Min1989 2017-2-20 14:12
shehemego: I am a senior now. To some extent, I have resonated with the words you wrote in the blog. Looking back at the two years I have spent in the university ...
You are smart in having this sort of realisation. What you are facing is what millions of Chinese undergraduates or even postgraduates are facing. I don't think universities can really teach us a lot of professional knowledge in any field. But I do think university is a place where we can learn many important things like independent thinking, critical analysis, self-learning strategies.

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