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A Successful Speaking Class

Hello Teacher Joe!

I hope you are very well! I am a college student named Winston. I hope you can give me some advice about how to make our oral English class better. We have one class a week, and it is 1.5 hour long. In our class, there are 28 students. All of us are taught by a foreign teacher. I think it is a very good situation, but I found that it is a waste of time in the class. The foreigner is a not a good teacher. The only thing useful for us is he is an English native speaker. Also, the content of the class is very bad. It isn't interesting for us at all. Nobody wants to listen to this teacher. We want to help the teacher solve this problem so that we can learn to speak English well. What do you think we should do in the oral English class? How can we take advantage of having a foreign teacher? Thanks a million!

Hi Winston,

This is really a big problem! There are many students in China who want to have a foreign teacher, but there are not enough real teachers for all students. So, many native English teachers are brought to China even though they have no experience in teaching. When I teach, I use ten to twenty different techniques that I developed over more than ten years teaching time. If I could meet your teacher and maybe have a chance to talk with him, I could teach him how to teach, then maybe your class would be better.

One suggestion I can give to you is to ask more questions in class. That is very normal in western classrooms, so don't worry about it. You can ask the teacher to tell you something about how his family spends Christmas day. Ask him to compare Christmas with the Spring Festival, and if he doesn't know much about the Spring Festival, then you and your classmates can tell him. Or you might ask him about his hometown and how it compares to the town your university is in. You should try to get all of the students to write one question. Then at sometime during the class, a student should raise his or her hand and ask one politely.

Keep your questions short, as well as your information about things in China. Take small steps to see if you can find some area that students and the teacher can both talk about easily. Maybe you can only ask one question at first, to see how it goes, then try a different one later. In the future, all of your class time could be a question and answer session!

In general, successful language learners take matters into their own hands and find ways to improve. Don't try just one way, try many different ways. Speak out whenever you can. Ask questions. Listen to the answers carefully, then ask follow-up questions to learn even more. You have many opportunities, but you have to take advantage of them. Good luck!

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