Costumes and wigs and props, oh my!

In our attempt to simulate what teaching would be like at Tsinghua University, all I can do is hope that my class of thirty Chinese students is as easily entertained as my co-volunteers. But what happens if my students are uninterested and nonresponsive? How will I cope with technological glitches and ineffective lessons? What happens if I can’t ‘save face’ (Miànzi), or worse, damage my students ability to ‘save face’? These are the questions I’m constantly asking myself while constructing my fifteen lessons for my future students.

This past week, my class focused on the dos and don’ts of creating a foolproof lesson. Each student had to pick a topic and preform their lesson as if they were in front of their class at Tsinghua. I decided that my presentation would cover the topic of American consumer culture. While there were areas that needed improvement, I felt like I understood how to create an effective lesson and activity.

Below I have included a checklist of things to include that will guarantee a successful lesson.

  • Title Page…. How else would the students know what the lesson is about
  • Objectives/Agenda…. You can never have too much structure in a classroom.
  • Activity with a stated linguistic purpose…. After all, our main goal is to help our students with their English
  • Clear instructions…. I guess writing “how to” essays in elementary school did come in handy
  • Prizes…. Friendly competition always makes for a good time
  • Vocabulary Page…. Because foreigners with foreign words can get confusing.
  • Real Life Example…. American’s are notorious for talking about their lives, here’s your chance with an audience that cares!
  • Connection to America and China…. What’s the big picture and why is what you’re teaching important?
  • Wrap Up Page…. Summarize the vocabulary, topic, and linguistic tool to remind the students that they’re actually learning while having fun!

Heather Blum

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