Friday, 20 November 2015

Teaching ESL in China. Lesson 1. How to keep them quiet. No. 1. The test.

Teaching ESL in China.

Lesson 1.

How to keep them quiet.  No. 1. The test.

My school, here in Nanjing China, insists that my classes are tested once a week. This is despite the fact that I only see these students for 3 x 45 minute lessons a week.  So I don't really stick to that regime. I probably do a test once every two weeks.  But along with regular homework the mums and dads will want to see the scores at the end of the semester - they generally only want the average score so the actual number of tests is not an issue.

What do my tests consist of? Of course it has to relate to what we have been doing in the classroom - the vocabulary learned. If you have been reading my blogs you will know that this semester I am meant to be teaching Oral English.  But to test 30 kids in one 45 minute session is impossible. So I have to give them a standard written test.  I will give them formal oral tests during the monthly, midterm and end of term exams when extra time is set aside for me to do that - they will also have a written exam - designed by me - at that time.

So this week we have been looking at Holidays and Vacations. So this is the vocabulary we have been studying.  I set written homework where they had to write 250 words about a dream holiday they have had or want in the future. Some of them have read their work out loud in class. I also practised the words and concepts taught in class prior to the test - and also taught content off my actual exam sheet that I had prepared earlier - so they would be prepared - if they were paying attention.

One of the main problems in the classroom is the less able students switching off and drifting away, looking out the window or trying to catch a crafty forty winks. ( I have seen, in some of the Chinese teachers classrooms, at least half a dozen students heads down fast asleep.) Others, despite being together 24 hours a day 5 days a week, still find they have something to say to each other even when I am trying to teach them something useful.

The test, however, does keep them quiet and engaged.

The test had to last about 45 minutes - 1 lesson, of course.

The first 10 questions were related to a video found online on an ESL website which I downloaded.  Before giving  them the paper I let them watch the short video first. Then I handed out the paper and played the video again. To use You Tube videos you can download them onto your computer - and then onto a USB stick using these free websites.

Clip converter  and convert2

Then they had some sentences to unscramble taken from this website -  Scrambled sentences 

I then tested their knowledge of English Articles that I had also covered using questions from this website

And finally a 20 word vacation related word search - word searches are useful - for the weaker student it helps with their vocabulary plus its an easy 20 marks that they can get. In a class of mixed ability such as I have the poor speakers/linguists can switch off and give up all too easily - so giving them something they can do in a test can help with their confidence plus they know they will generate some marks.

So that pretty much took up the whole 45 minutes, the better students finished it 5 or 10 minutes earlier.

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