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Creative Teaching Methods That Work

Popularity 1Viewed 600 times 2019-6-24 14:22 |Personal category:Education|System category:News

Teaching involves far more than simply feeding facts and figures to students and telling them to 'go learn this.' Teaching effectively is the ability to know how the brain works and knowing how true learning takes place in the brain.

My parents' generation were taught to, 'shut up, sit down and listen.' Today, my English teaching style is almost the opposite. I want my students to 'stand up, follow me and start talking.' As with mastering any language, the foundation in language learning must be listening and speaking first. Then, once that foundation is built, you can build the rest of what they need to master English (or any language). You can be confident that the foundation is strong and will support all other aspects of language learning.

Here are things that I do that have proven to be highly effective.

1. Purposely Tell Your Students Something Wrong And Let Them Correct You

Now, let me say that because I've taught more than 25,000 classes in my life, I am very secure in my abilities as a teacher. I know what works in the classroom and what doesn't. So, I use this strategy in order to stir up the students. I will present something that is wrong as long as at least some of them also know that it's wrong.

Why do I do this? 

Well, it creates a long term memory effect in the students. I like to let them 'catch me' saying something wrong (I make sure that they 'catch me'). It opens their minds to learn what I want them to know at a deeper level. They won't forget it.

One thing that is a stark contrast to Western countries is that teachers in China are considered to be infallible. They can't and don't make mistakes nor are they ever wrong. In Western countries, we encourage discussion and creative thinking. Sometimes, we will purposely say something that is wrong in order to give students a chance to correct us. When students do this, their learning is highly effective and they gain a deeper understanding.

2. Use Quizzes Often (forget about scores)

Using quizzes (small, perhaps weekly, exams) is an excellent tool for teaching. I've taught some classes and immediately given the quiz after I finished the lesson. Then, during the next class, I would give the quiz again. It lets me know what my students learned and what they didn't learn. When I know what they did learn, I won't spend a lot of time reviewing it. When I know what they didn't learn or understand, then, I know how to help them and can spend my valuable class time helping them. 

Sometimes, I will put the number of questions that they missed at the top of their quiz and not put an actual percentage of the answers that they got right. I don't care about scores. I care about learning. Teaching and learning is not a competition. It is the ability to cultivate the minds of young people. After they know what they missed, I then let them work with a classmate in reviewing and comparing which ones they got wrong. I let them discuss and actually teach each other. This is an extremely powerful method for students' learning.

3. Let students teach the lesson

Sometimes, I will teach something in class, ask the students to raise their hand if they understand and rather than me repeating the lesson again, I will let one of the students who understands come to the whiteboard and explain the principle (grammar rule, spelling, meaning, etc.) to the rest of the class. Chinese students LOVE this. In my classes, students are always trying to be 'the teacher for the day.' So, they pay close attention to the lesson and learn it well.

Why do I do this? 

Well, I know that when I do this, the students learn at a much deeper level. Not only are they hearing the same lesson being taught by someone other than me, but, that teacher is one of their peers. It is a very powerful and effective method for teaching.

Once, a teacher told me, "Oh students can never do that." I said, "Well, I know that my students can do it because, they do." And I also know how highly effective it is.

If you are a teacher (or a parent who is deeply involved with your kid), try at least one of these methods of teaching. You will see your students come alive with excitement and a much deeper interest. You will also see their actual learning (and your teaching) be far more effective than it has ever been.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Michael is the author of the transformational book, Powerful Attitudes. He is a professional educator, an educational consultant, an author. He lives in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. He enjoys playing guitar and writing poetry. He loves China.


Recent comments

  • Why English Is So Hard 2019-7-15 22:39

    Yes, the serious exam system has made Chinese education go in a strange way which has wasted too much for the nation!  Our physical education program should make ordinary kids become healthier and stronger rather than prepare thousands of athletes for few champion gold medals! All subjects ought to train children to do independent thinking with their own head instead of repeating others' sayings without one-word-changing!
    (A long time ago, I posted one blog (or thread)titled ‘We should learn English as kids’ .)

  • Why Foreigners Can't Teach Gaokao English 2019-7-14 23:25

    "The school I work at tells me to concentrate on pronunciation and oral speaking skills only, the students will get grammar lessons from their respective State schools.  What's the use of proper pronunciation if they can't construct a correct sentence?"

    This, right here, is the reason I gave up after 11 years. I could not justify punishing myself and pulling out my own hair any longer. I was tired of hearing the excuse, "This is China. We do things differently, here". Just play games, sing songs, and get them to talk (in a university environment). Foreign teachers are a laughingstock, in China. Everyone knows they are only there to put a white face on the school, and to justify charging exorbitant fees to the parents. Those who WANT to learn, will. The majority however, are only there because they HAVE to be there. If they don't pass, they don't get their Bachelor's Degree. That's the only reason they are in that classroom. Yes, this sounds like a negative post ... but it's the TRUTH.

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