Yang Chunyan started learning English at the age of 11.
She now teaches the language at Three Gorges University in Yichang, Hubei province, central China.
In this blog, Yang (pictured, above right) shares her experience as a teacher, including how she jokes about Nokia phones to manage student behavior.
Has anything ever gone wrong in your classroom?
One time, a student broke some class rules while making a presentation. I was forced to interrupt it.
The student was furious and bolted towards her seat, having not finished her presentation.
I pretended to ignore her, and gave the whole class a lesson on the importance of obeying rules in the classroom, on the campus and even in society.
How do you make the classroom fun?
I often mock myself about personal things like my boyfriend, my hairstyle and my dreams.
Students have a laugh and share personal stuff about themselves, too. This makes for a funny classroom.
How do you manage bad behavior?
I will pause for a few seconds and stare at something in the classroom. Students will be aware of it straight away and keep quiet.
I also try to make fun of bad behavior in a way that doesn’t hurt their feelings.
For example, when their cell phone rings I might say, “It’s been decades since I’ve heard a Nokia! It’s so quaint”.
What are the qualities of a ‘perfect’ student?
I believe the perfect student loves to ask questions and discuss topics with fellow students and teachers.
In addition, the perfect student is always reading, thinking, and creating.
The perfect student discusses topics with fellow students, according to English teacher Yang.
How do you prepare for your classes?
I make sure I familiarize myself with the class textbook. This involves highlighting the difficult words, expressions, cultural items and so on.
I then research detailed explanations of the difficult aspects and create a well-structured Powerpoint presentation.
Finally, I develop a suitable assignment.
How do you keep your students engaged and interested for the entire lesson?
I’ve actually been trying to work on this lately. I’m open to suggestions!
What are your goals for the future?
I would like to learn something that’s really practical, such as interpreting. I’d also like to master a third or fourth language.
This interests me much more than writing a pile of useless, so-called academic papers for the teaching faculty.
What advice would you give someone considering teaching in China?
Chinese students generally have two sides – introverted and shy, and a strong sense of ego.
They really need to be encouraged and aroused to think independently. In my opinion, this is the biggest problem for them.
Many Chinese students born since the 90s need help when it comes to pursuing dreams, seeking joy in life, and even having basic interpersonal relationships.
I suggest that both local and foreign teachers provide lectures or guidance on these issues.
Chinese students also like hearing about genuine cultural differences. They most likely travel a lot less than you do!
What do you think of Yang’s technique to manage behavior in the classroom? Please comment below.