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Excellence In English Education

Viewed 11175 times 2018-6-21 15:36 |Personal category:Education|System category:News

I led a school in Texas, USA, for 15 years before coming to China. It was a very successful school of several hundred students. Graduates excelled in major universities and colleges. I sold the school and property and took semi-retirement. That's how I finally landed in China in 2011.

Since coming here, I've experienced far more success than I expected. I didn't plan to stay here more than a year, but, was compelled to due to the lack of quality English education that I observed. Students and many English teachers, could not have more than 20 second conversation with me. My heart went out to them. I wanted to help. Students were taught to get scores on an exam, not to learn English. It was very interesting. I'd never seen such phenomena before.

Language students in all of the western countries I've visited, are taught to master a language. Fluency is always the objective. Exams are necessary, but, are not end in themselves.

If you've read my past blogs, you know that I've been able to affect some amazing success with students here. Putting students into Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Johns Hopkins and other top schools, have been the results. I couldn't have done it without having awesome, smart, diligent students. Many Chinese students amaze me with their dedication and tenacity in learning English.

A few years ago, I was back in America and participating in a small conference with some of the leading experts on language learning in the nation. Our primary objective was to create a system of excellence for English education in non-native English speaking countries.

In my proposal, I drew upon my many years of experience in education to establish what become a set of standards for English education in non-native English speaking countries. I was invited to share those standards here on my China Daily blog.

First, you MUST have standards. Especially in China. In China, you might be perceived as being rigid, dogmatic and perhaps even belligerent for having standards that you aren't willing to compromise. If you get this kind of criticism then, you are likely on the right course and doing the right thing. Albeit rare, but, I do get it. (I'm usually very careful in choosing the right parents and students before I allow them to join my classes.)

I have standards that I don't compromise. One of my standards is that, if one of my students' parents because critical, demeaning or otherwise untrusting of the methods that I use, I invite (and insist) that they go elsewhere for their child's English training. Fortunately, I have found that only about 3-5% of Chinese parents will have such an attitude toward a teacher. The other 95-97% of parents understand the necessity of fully cooperating with the teacher. Their focus is on the students. 

When the focus becomes the ego or presumed expertise of the parent, then, it is time for the parent to move on and find a different teacher. Again, I've found that only 3-5% of Chinese parents will interfere with their child's education by not cooperating with the teacher. It is logical and quite reasonable that if the parent knows more than the teacher, then, there is no need for them to waste their money and time going anywhere other than their own living room to train their own child.

Parents like this will distract the teacher with trouble and will create aggravation. Teachers who produce excellent results do not have time nor energy to expend upon such situations. I am quick to let a complaining, troublesome parent go so that they can seek another teacher for their child. It is best for them, the teacher and the child. I only want parents and students who know the results I have already affected with past students and want the same for their child. 

I am open to any and all constructive, positive suggestions and ideas from parents. In fact, we ask for such suggestions via a survey during every term. However, if a parent comes to me and expects me to listen to complaining, insults or the like, they have to go. I don't have time for that. I won't tolerate it.

If you are a teacher, head of school, principal or program director, you must have standards if you are going to create an environment of excellence and produce top students. If you don't have your own standards, you'll get pulled several different ways and diminish your effectiveness.

Set standards for what you are and aren't going to do. I'll share more of my standards in future blogs. This one standard is essential in creating excellence for your students and yourself in China. 

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




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Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.


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