It was almost like having to re learn how to plan while I was in China. Teaching adults ( well young adults) in big class sizes with no resources and asking them to embrace communicative methodology was a bit like asking me to give up Green and Blacks on world chocolate day…..its was always going to be a struggle.
Two hour classes with no course outline was a hoot but I soon got into the swing of it. The new students embraced a different teaching and learning style as they didn’t know any different. The second years took a wee while but got into it. They asked for the real pronunciation of words…..my lovely vowel sounds were definitely not RP. The final year students just wanted to get on with learning passages to recite and regurgitate during exams.
Quite a lot of my students learned by rote so you would see them pacing about campus reciting over and over. They would often read out loud to me to practice.
I’m not a big fan of rote learning, I like to see it in context. I know we need it in some cases but for languages I want to see and hear people communicate.
I was asked to judge a speech competition, not knowing that I would be sitting on my backside for about 4 hours listening to student teachers recite speeches or passages from classical literature that they didn’t understand but had memorised. The second time I was asked it was not water that was in the Evian bottle I can tell you.
I was given a huge novel of classic English literature and asked to teach it. I nearly died. I had never heard of half of it. All the students wanted to do was to learn page after page. My usual irreverence of why would that be useful EVER?crept in.
So I decided to put my take on the planning and we looked at Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare carried some major Kudos so that went down well. I taught it in a way I would expect a literature unit in a foreign language to be delivered and a way that I would enjoy:Background, intercultural understanding, creativity….My favourite part was showing them the Baz Lurnham version. We looked at setting, language, music and compared that to the versions they had seen. They were captivated. A battle won but it took more than Leonardo di Caprio to win the war. And I may have had my backside felt slightly for being slightly irreverent in my approach.
Really? Says who?😉
I had never really had the experience of trying to convince people that what I was teaching was correct.
There was a huge mindset change needed and I can see why students and staff were resistant.
No one had suggested anything different for years so therefore it was not needed?
My planning time was a battle. The daily routine could actually be quite exhausting and usually sunday was written off for planning. During the week I spent a lot of time keeping in touch with people back at home but we also had another role to undertake with VSO ( more on that later) I suppose it was the first time I learned to really plan smartly……