It has been a month into my Chinese classes. I have made some (little) progress. Moreover, from the teacher’s perspective, the classes have made me realize so much about language learning that I guess it’s time for another post.
- Nodding. If you’re a language teacher, beware of it. Don’t trust it. I, for example, nod fiercely especially when I have no idea what my teacher is trying to explain. Check that your students understand your explanation. Nodding is the easiest way for the student to avoid working hard.
- Notebooks. I would suggest that you check what your students write down in their notebooks. I am sure my notes are full of mistakes and I appreciate it when my teacher has a look at what I wrote down. As a teacher, I check what my Czech students write in their notebooks in the first weeks of their study and always find some mistakes.
- Homework. Check it. As much as I hate checking homework, because it takes so long, I feel proud when I have done mine and want to go over it with my teacher first thing in the lesson.
- Explanations. Use very few words to explain things. Speak slowly. Repeat using the same words. Don’t use words students don’t know.
- Relevance to your life. If my teacher asks me a personal question, I am much more motivated to express myself in the target language. Little do I care about the poor character Dawei (David) from England that is featured in the book. Now I also understand why my students would create completely crazy roleplays when I asked then to write something similar to the dialogue we had studied. The power you’re given to use the language!
- Correcting. If you’re correcting, don’t just say what is wrong. Help your student understand why it’s wrong and what they can do to correct their mistake. I’m referring to pronunciation here. When I repeat what my teacher said, and the teacher says it’s wrong, it is very helpful if she also clarifies how I (wrongly) say it and what I need to change about my pronunciation.
- Finally a realization for the learner – don’t lose the big picture. It’s very easy to just do your homework and read through the pages you did in the last lesson. Dream big and hold onto your dreams. Do other things. Learn some new characters. Watch a video. Learn something the teacher didn’t teach. Prepare a short series of questions to ask your teacher at the start of the lesson. Work towards your dreams.