How To Improve Oral English


Published on

Lecture delivered to trainee Chinese English Teachers at Hainan Normal University, December, 2008,

Published in: Education, Career
  • Be the first to comment

How To Improve Oral English

  1. 1. How to Improve Oral English Why Can't Chinese Students Speak English Very Well?
  2. 2. The Culture Barrier: The Real Reason Chinese Students Don't Progress! <ul><li>Monash University (Australia) Website has an article; </li></ul><ul><li>“ Working with Students from China”. </li></ul><ul><li>In this article they discuss two issues relating to the English language skills of Chinese students studying at the university. </li></ul>2. Obstacles to effective spoken expression… 1. Should Chinese (Language) Be Banned (in the classroom)?
  3. 3. 1. Should Chinese (Language) Be Banned (in the classroom)? <ul><li>However international their content, the disciplines we teach in Australian universities are conceived, elaborated and passed on in English. Their discourse is framed in English, and that is what we expect the students to acquire, use and contribute to and what the students themselves expect to acquire and use. </li></ul><ul><li>But we need to recognise that few, if any, students from mainland China arrive on our campuses with the level of English language skills they would need to work only in English, and that even the best of them are likely to take at least half a semester (6 weeks) to develop facility in thinking in English. </li></ul>
  4. 4. 2. Obstacles to Effective Spoken Expression: <ul><li>Students don't know how to: </li></ul><ul><li>enter a discussion </li></ul><ul><li>add to the last speaker's turn </li></ul><ul><li>express disagreement without offence </li></ul><ul><li>pose a question politely </li></ul><ul><li>hold the floor against an interruption </li></ul><ul><li>refuse a turn to speak - gracefully </li></ul><ul><li>deflect a question </li></ul><ul><li>respond to a challenge </li></ul><ul><li>use humour </li></ul><ul><li>respond to humour </li></ul><ul><li>express non-comprehension without looking foolish </li></ul><ul><li>seek clarification without losing face </li></ul>
  5. 5. Monash University proposes a solution to these problems <ul><li>In an article by Australian English Teacher, this issue has been discussed at length, and I propose to share these discussions with you now… </li></ul><ul><li>(“ Conversational English: Breaking Through the Chinese Culture Barrier”. By R .P. BenDedek) </li></ul>“ Facilitating Interaction in Class ”
  6. 6. What Does Culture Have To Do With Successfully Learning English? <ul><li>Why don’t students speak freely in English in Class? English Language Culture is very different to Chinese Language Culture. Even though you think that being 'Chinese' means that you have 'a' culture, i.e. 'one' culture, you really have many cultures in China that effect you and the way you think and act. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Some of The Cultures That Affect You as Chinese Students: 6. Classroom Culture 5. School Culture 4. Family Culture 3. Province, Town, Village Culture. 2. Communist Culture 1. Traditional Confucian Culture
  8. 8. 1. Traditional Confucian Culture: <ul><li>Confucianism puts loyalty to family and friends first, your 'face' second, and then your country (probably after Money, Western Movies and Music, girl/boyfriend, friends, and worries about the future). </li></ul>
  9. 9. 2. Communist Culture: <ul><li>In Communist Culture there are 3 main things you must do: </li></ul><ul><li>1. You must love your Country </li></ul><ul><li>2. You must love your Country </li></ul><ul><li>3. You must love your Country </li></ul>
  10. 10. 3. The Culture of Your Province, Town, and Village: <ul><li>Maybe the culture is the same in each, but it’s not always so. </li></ul>
  11. 11. 4. Family Culture : <ul><li>Family culture can be different to the surrounding culture. For Example: </li></ul><ul><li>Some families are Muslim (Islamic) </li></ul><ul><li>Some families are Christian </li></ul><ul><li>Some families are Buddhist </li></ul><ul><li>Some families have no religion </li></ul><ul><li>Some families are members of the Communist Party </li></ul>
  12. 12. 5. School Culture : <ul><li>A mix of traditional Confucian culture and communist thinking from the period of the cultural revolution. (e.g. Students get to report on the teachers, and so have power over them). This is not traditional Chinese culture. The Chinese method of learning is by Memorization. The teacher talks and the students write down what the Teacher says. The teacher tells them what to learn, and they memorize it. Unfortunately, this method of learning is not sufficient for learning effective and natural communication in English. </li></ul>
  13. 13. 6. Classroom Culture: <ul><li>Coloured hair, western clothing, cell phones in class as well as MP3's and ipods to listen to music. This certainly is not the traditional culture or the Communist culture of China. In some classes where most students are not really interested in English, there’s a good learning environment but in others, where most students are interested in improving their English, it’s a poor learning environment. Why? One student, or group, control and/or rule the class. Others are afraid of them, or don’t know how to stop them. So everyone suffers, and little progress is made. </li></ul>
  14. 14. The Difference between Grammar and Language Culture. <ul><li>'Can we be friends?' </li></ul><ul><li>Western Culture: </li></ul><ul><li>We’re having difficulties with someone! </li></ul><ul><li>Chinese Culture: </li></ul><ul><li>We use to benefit ourselves! </li></ul>
  15. 15. The Foreign Teacher's Biggest Problem! <ul><li>Statement: </li></ul><ul><li>'You should understand Chinese culture!' </li></ul><ul><li>Reply: </li></ul><ul><li>‘ It’s because of your Chinese culture, you haven’t been able to progress in normal, natural and effective communication!’ </li></ul>
  16. 16. What is the Purpose of Oral English Exams? <ul><li>The purpose of exams in class is not to test knowledge or grammar but to test Language and Communication Skill. </li></ul>
  17. 17. What is the Purpose of Doing 'Real Time' Group Discussion? <ul><li>To learn SKILLS </li></ul><ul><li>To Learn from Others </li></ul><ul><li>To Learn that there are no right or wrong answers in conversations - only good or bad communication skills </li></ul>
  18. 18. What is Expected of You in Oral English Class? <ul><li>Do not waste the teacher's time. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not waste the other student's time. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not waste your own time. </li></ul><ul><li>Learn from the teacher. </li></ul><ul><li>Learn from others. </li></ul><ul><li>Learn by your mistakes. </li></ul><ul><li>Do what is asked - understand and think about the assigned tasks. </li></ul><ul><li>Use imagination and skill to communicate in English. </li></ul><ul><li>Improve your listening skills by listening carefully to everyone who is speaking English in class. </li></ul><ul><li>Improve use of grammar, by paying attention to and learning from both the teacher and other students. </li></ul><ul><li>Correct your own speaking flaws, even before you get up to speak, because you will already have heard the teacher correct other students. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Which Students Fail to Get High Exam Marks? Students With Wrong Attitudes! <ul><li>8 Wrong Attitudes: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Let Chinese cultural thinking prevent you from learning to communicate in English in a natural way. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Refuse to believe that a native English speaker knows better than a Chinese grammar teacher, how to speak English. 3. Some Students only want to memorize what to say. 4. Don’t really try to learn to communicate in English. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Get the teacher to tell you what to write down, to think, and to say. This stops you from learning natural English. 6. Don't work hard. Just get everyone to make you feel good and feel loved and to be friendly. (This does not happen in the real world in real life) 7. Just 'kill time' until you can go to work. 8. Another Really bad attitude. Choose the ‘best accent’. </li></ul>
  20. 20. How Can You Get Very High Exam Results? <ul><li>Listen carefully and do what is asked. </li></ul><ul><li>Have a right attitude to learning in class. </li></ul><ul><li>Do the work you are asked to do. </li></ul><ul><li>Listen all the time to everything said in English. </li></ul><ul><li>Practice the 'skills' as much as you can. </li></ul><ul><li>Learn to have your own opinion. </li></ul><ul><li>Learn to express yourself in English. </li></ul><ul><li>Don't be afraid of mistakes. </li></ul><ul><li>Don't be afraid to lose face. </li></ul><ul><li>Don't be silent (unless you usually chat in Chinese in class) </li></ul><ul><li>Ask lots of questions - especially if you don't understand something. </li></ul><ul><li>Give informative answers when asked a question. </li></ul><ul><li>Learn to 'interject' - to cut people off. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Rules for Discussion <ul><li>Talk! Standing there saying nothing is not discussion - no marks for not talking! </li></ul><ul><li>Ask Questions </li></ul><ul><li>Give good and informative answers </li></ul><ul><li>Use Skills </li></ul>
  22. 22. I am afraid of losing face! <ul><li>If you are afraid of losing face in class - never open your mouth in English in public. </li></ul><ul><li>Why? If you don't make your mistakes in the classroom, then you will make them in real life. </li></ul>