>What students want

>A teacher shared what he thought students want. I added my own thoughts.

“I HOPE THE TEACHER CAN HELP ENHANCE MY INTEREST TOWARDS ENGLISH LEARNING THROUGH VIVID METHODS, SUCH AS GAMES, SONGS, SHORT PLAYS, STORIES, ETC.”

I’ve found that students don’t want games all the time. They don’t want movies all the time. But they do want a variety of activities.

“I HOPE THE TEACHER CAN CORRECT MY PRONUNCIATION.” “I HOPE THE TEACHER WILL GIVE ME CORRECTION AND EVALUATION AS WELL AS ENCOURAGEMENT.”

Somehow, many teachers have gotten the idea that if they correct their students the students will be discouraged. To the contrary, the students really want correction. Of course, the teacher should take care to correct the students in an encouraging way.

“I HOPE THE TEACHER WILL SHOW ME THE WAY A FOREIGNER THINKS.” “I WANT TO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT WESTERN CULTURE.”

Students really want to understand how foreigners think and feel. I always had difficulty in managing this. I thought I had to include a class on culture. I realized that I did talk about cultural aspects from time to time but they students didn’t realize it. So now when I talk about why or how foreigners think or some cultural background, I sort of headline it to the students by saying, “I know you are very interested in the culture of my country and this is a small cultural point.” Then I continue explaining it to them. This way the students do know we talk about culture.

“I HOPE THE TEACHER WILL NOT USE COMPLICATED WORDS AND SENTENCES THAT PREVENT ME FROM UNDERSTANDING.” “I HOPE THE TEACHER WILL NOT SPEAK TOO FAST.”

Yes, but even though we become experts of simplifying our language, it still happens, doesn’t it? In a mixed range class there will always be those who have more trouble. And sometimes these students will complain to the supervisors. To manage this and other problems in college classes, I do two things: (1) Tell everyone to ask me if they don’t understand something. And when someone does ask me to clarify something I thank that person profusely as there are probably other students who also don’t understand. (2) Ask the students for feedback and instead of having them return their feedback papers to me I have them post them all around the room for everyone to see. This way students can see how other students feel. If they see that they are the only ones asking for the teacher to speak slower then they can understand why the teacher may not be able to accommodate their request. (These feedbacks are useful for many other things as well.)

“I DON’T WANT THE TEACHER TO ENCOURAGE “FREE” DISCUSSION A LOT. IN THAT SITUATION ONLY STUDENTS WITH BETTER CAPABILITY TALK, WHICH WILL REDUCE THE CHANCES FOR SHY STUDENTS. IF I AM A SHY STUDENT, I WANT THE TEACHER TO GIVE ME SOME ‘PUSH’.”

Students often don’t feel they are learning something when the topic is too open. However, I think it’s good to break out on a topic that is being discussed or is related to what they are studying. For example, if the lesson refers to “niche markets” then the students could brainstorm and dream up some other possible niche markets.

“I WANT TO LEARN ‘REAL’ ENGLISH WITH SLANG AND IDIOMS.”

Students want that. Very true. But I seldom teach them much. I think it would be fine for advanced students but not the kind of students I usually teach. Most slang has very narrow uses and my students have a lot of other English that they should learn first.

“I HOPE THE TEACHER WILL NOT FOLLOW THE TEXTBOOK RIGIDLY. BETTER BRING SOMETHING OF LIFE AND CULTURE INTO THE CLASS.”

Some textbooks bring real death to students. They are so boooring. I recently had a textbook like that but I challenged myself to do interesting things with each lesson. When it was talking about hiring and was focused on a “dialog” of a job interview, I had the students read the interview and then divided the class in half, HR managers and job hunters. I posted the HR managers around the class and sent the job hunters to find a job. They didn’t follow the interview at all but some of the language in the interview was helpful. They had a blast.

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