As the number of U.S. middle and high school Chinese programs increase, the need for more qualified Chinese teachers with solid knowledge and certification has become imperative. According to a report by Asia Society, there was an estimated 200% growth in Chinese language programs in the United States between 2004 and 2008. Since then the number of programs has grown exponentially. Given the high demands of U.S. schools, what can Chinese teachers do to develop their teaching skills and become a great Chinese teacher in these growing number of Mandarin education classes?
1. Possess a Solid Foundation in Language Pedagogy and Second Language AcquisitionSome Chinese teachers claim that they have difficulty teaching in the U.S. because the teaching approach is so different from China. They are accustomed to more traditional teacher-centered, grammar-based and test-oriented language teaching. As a result, they lack the knowledge and experience of a student-centered and communicative approach.
To become a good Chinese teacher in the U.S., a solid knowledge base in language pedagogy and second language acquisition is essential. This means that teachers need to be aware of why they do what they do in the classroom, and are able to employ appropriate approaches and methods in the classroom to engage their specific group of students.
Give yourself a quick test and see if you recognize the buzz words at the beginning of the blogpost. If you don't, you might want to brush up a bit on your language education terminology. To enrich your teaching repertoire, check out our teacher training webinars. We aim to equip you the practical knowledge and hands-on activities to become a great Chinese teacher.
2. Take Time for Self-reflection and Reflective Teaching
Self-reflection is an important quality of a competent teacher that helps teachers to meditate about their own actions, motives, and outcomes. Reflective teaching requires flexibility and transferability from theory to practice. Teachers need to be willing to adjust their lesson plans and modify their actions depending on the dynamics of the classroom and optimize learning opportunities for the students. To improve teaching practices, teachers can keep daily journals and diagnosis problems they encounter during the day. The journals provide an area to jot down quick notes amidst the busyness of the day. They can also record themselves, collect data and analyze their practices to conduct teacher action research.
[caption id="attachment_3756" align="aligncenter" width="495"] Picture courtesy of Frederick County Public Schools.[/caption]
Online teachers’ blogs and literature are also useful resources that can help teachers keep abreast of current research and find solutions to their problems. If you are interested, here are some great books for you to better understand the concept of professional development for teacher's and reflective teaching.
Bailey, K.M., Curtis, A. & Nunan, D. (2001). Pursuing professional development: The self as source. Boston, MA: Heinle. ISBN:083841130-4. ISBN: 083841130-4
Tsui, A. (2003). Understanding expertise in teaching. Cambridge University Press. ISBN:0-521-63569-1
Lightbown, P. & Spada, N. (2006). How Languages are Learned. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press. ISBN:978-0-19-442224-6.
3. Attend a Professional Development Workshop
Other than online teacher’s blog and academic literature, teachers can also attend professional development workshops to refine their teaching practices. There are various teacher certification programs offered by different universities and institutions, but could be time-consuming for some teachers who work full-time, 5 days a week. What they need might be some guidance from an experienced teacher in the field, or a two-day teacher training workshop that familiarize them with the best practice and theory in language education. Perhaps you can take a look at the following buzz words in language education to self check if you have a solid understanding of Best Practices for Mandarin Chinese Teachers.
What do you do to keep up-to-date with the latest teaching strategies and practices as a Mandarin language teacher?