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I'm interested in ideas/insights from people here regarding approaches for teaching English to Chinese-speakers. In other words, what have you learned during the course of teaching in China about how people from a Chinese linguistic/cultural background are most comfortable approaching a foreign language, and what teaching strategies have you found to be most successful?

 

I taught EFL to Chinese students for several years (recently), and am likely to be doing so again in the Fall. I have some of my own ideas about this, but I am a long way from having it all figured out, and would be interested to hear fresh ideas/perspectives. In particular, I would be interested in knowing how you have succeeded in stimulating natural conversation/discussion in the classroom.

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abcdefg

Good question and I hope you get lots of constructive suggestions. I'm not an English teacher, but what prompted me to post is that I live across a courtyard from a Chinese middle school. Every day I hear the classes chanting various passages in unison. Seems to be a favorite pedagogical strategy. Doubt that it is terribly effective in learning a foreign language.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with @abcdefg, I have met many students who can recite their entire english textbooks but struggle with basic conversation. As someone who learned chinese here, it seems that many teachers are applying methods of learning chinese to english.  I teach two third grade students and the most important part of the my lessons is having them explain in their own words the concepts that we discuss. It forces them to use english to communicate.

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  • 2 weeks later...

abcdefg and eshton - I also have my (very strong) doubts about the effectiveness of the recitation and rote memorization that I see in Chinese English teachers' classrooms. I can see why they do it, though: Chinese students are perfectly comfortable with it, because they never have to deal with the discomfort of articulating something in a foreign language. I think stimulating students to move past that discomfort is key, and I am still looking for new approaches for this.

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From what I've experienced, it seems that the methods used in learning are result-based instead of intuitive methods. I belive this is the greatest downfall of the education system here. For most students, the goal appears to be being able to comprehend the language not use it. It would seem to suggest that the discomfort is largely a psychological/mental choice than an actual lack of self-confidence.

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