Teach teaching English the fun way

 

by Anthony Tong

The Shaoguan Education Bureau, China Candlelight Education Fund and Amity Foundation, Hong Kong organized the Summer Training Workshop at Le Chang, Guangdong for 100 Junior Secondary English teachers during 19 – 25 July 2015. The aim of the 7-day Workshop was to help teachers improve their teaching skills through a two-pronged approach:

  • to support teachers improving their English proficiency 
  • to share good practices in English teaching

A full range of lectures, workshops, a Speech Clinic, a Speaking Clinic and micro-teaching practicum were arranged. These were characterized by their recreational nature allowing teachers to appreciate that fun could be a powerful motivating factor in students’ learning English. There was also a Talent Evening when the 10 groups of teachers had to perform in English and a Drama Evening where all participants were engaged in duologues on stage. Through these immersion-type interactive engagement, tremendous aural-oral improvement has been achieved at the end of the course.

The “Gauntlet” – Participants learning how to improve their speaking accuracy (left). Oral practice with HK Volunteers to build up their confidence (right).

A speech Clinic helping teachers to understand their own pronounciation problems. (left). A speaking Clinic on daily life matters to improve fluency, confidence and listening ability (right).

In Group Micro-teaching sessions the teachers reflect on their teaching (left). Introducing Puppetry in teaching English the fun way (middle). Talent Show where English was used with ease (right).

Drama evening where wholesome fun built fluency (left). Happy winners of the Drama Evening (right).

The Concluding Plenary ended on a high point when all the participants launched paper airplanes into the air, on which were written their dreams and aspirations as village English teachers.

Aspirations and Dreams for improvement launched in paper airplanes.

In keeping with Amity’s vision to empower young Hong Kong people, we have engineered activities that required the visiting volunteers to shoulder the coordination of all the 10 groups as well as leading in all the group activities. Challenging though such an undertaking may be, the adult and young volunteers conducted themselves admirably. The hosting authorities also went out of their way in their hospitality and brought the visiting team on a bit of sightseeing. From the way the 9 student volunteers were enthusiastic about the activities and their verbal feedback during three de-briefing sessions, the experience has clearly been both worthwhile and enlightening. Most had felt a greater affinity for the people and culture, and were keen to lead a more purposeful life of learning, be more ready to help others and become agents of change in their adult lives.

Volunteers enjoyed the countryside at Le Chang.

From subsequent tallies, it was found that 67% would like to improve their teaching and 28% would like to improve their English. The 98% of the teachers completing the post-event questionnaire were very forthcoming about the effectiveness of the course. In the 28 target learning areas, 95 – 100% of the respondents “Strongly agreed” or “Agreed” that the aims had been achieved while the “Disagreed” and “Strongly disagree” categories were conspicuous by their absence or scarcity. In summary, the 7-day summer English course was a success for all involved and the curriculum used is quite amenable for scaling up or spreading to other areas in China needing better English teaching.