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Teaching in an English Village

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Re: Teaching in an English Village

Postby superking » 27 Apr 2012, 00:48

asiababy wrote:
tsukinodeynatsu wrote:I think to teach in an English Village you need the same mindset to teach in a summer camp.

Yes, you are there as a teacher. You are not actually supposed to be teaching.

Do as little material teaching as possible. What these camps and villages and whatnot are is a rare opportunity for the kids to let off some steam and have fun. Will they learn anything from the material? Very, very little. But they'll probably learn something more important about human interaction from their time with you, so while you're there be the very best example of a human that you can be. Make them have fun, care about them while they're in your room or in the corridors, do your best to let them have a good time because that's the whole point.

The saddest thing about them is that playtime and breaks need to be disguised as study opportunities before parents will let their kids chill out and be kids.


Last year, I helped the 5th graders at my son's school prepare for this English Camp. After the whole experience, I am really angered by the amount of the money that has gone into this thing, and the ridiculousness of the concept. We were an invited school, and for preparation, we got four sides of A4 paper with vocabulary and dialog. This included sentences like: "I want to take a train from Vancouver to New York. What time does it leave?" We also had to teach money amounts like "Thirty three dollars and fifty nine cents. Are you paying by credit card?" When you think about this question, consider that these kids going to the camp have had two hours a week of English since Third Grade. They have not been introduced to any English names of countries, nor have they been near American money. So, I had five weeks (=five hours while the teachers are in their weekly meeting) to prepare the kids which included teaching them the geography of the USA and Canada, which included five random US cities and Vancouver (so they could take a train), as well as memorizing six sets of dialog and vocabulary, much of which they had not yet covered in class. There is no extra time allotted for English teachers to cover any of this material. We asked for flashcards, pictures, any activity suggestions, cloze dialogs, anything that teachers teaching the English Village might have, but there was NOTHING. So, every school taking part had to make all their extra preparation material. We found a few grammar and spelling errors on the four sheets but were told it couldn't be changed because it had already gone to print. I know other teachers in other areas prepared stuff but nobody wanted it, and this just highlights the disorganisation of the whole thing.

I also have to disagree about the part about just having fun and not learning anything. This COULD be a really good learning opportunity. As it is, there are prizes at the English Village and the kids really care about the chance to get a prize, as well as actually doing something useful. The kids I taught did learn something, but not every school has a parent willing/able to come in and prepare all the materials and then teach it, and as it doesn't fit within the pre-set curriculum, English teachers struggle to cover the material so all kids can be confident enough to have a good time. However, I would argue the money SHOULD go to schools like ours that have no English materials at all provided, or to the families that can't afford a CD player to let their kids hear the CD that comes with the school textbook. Or let schools run exchange days if it's about having fun and socialising. Or maybe that few million could be put into developing a decent elementary school English curriculum. It's just a misuse of so much money.

Ok, that's my rant as a disgruntled parent over. I also want to plead to teachers in the program to consider the kids if you can, when planning the materials. That little extra bit of work you do, those extra things you offer to support preparation, help a lot. Of course if you are not allowed to provide those, it just confirms my view that is a good idea gone bad.


We have some crossfire; Parent vs Teacher. But the sales staff are the hedge men. And some middle management. What parents buy in to, and what you think they are sold are not proportional. Who is hedging the hedge men?
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Re: Teaching in an English Village

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 27 Apr 2012, 09:08

asiababy: You're entirely correct. The time and money could be spent in such better ways. These things cost 30 million NTD to set up and run for the first five years. That's 1 million USD. Think of what could be done with that money. It's mind boggling. If I were handling that kind of budget, I wouldn't do any of this. I wouldn't even have foreign teachers. Foreign English teachers, if utilised correctly, could be good. To do that though, the entire curriculum would need to be changed, there'd need to be more hours of English, and they'd need to provide a better package to attract high quality teachers. They're simply not going to be able to do that with the budget they allocate to these things.

So, what would I do? I'd completely forget about foreign teachers. What I would get would be some foreign trainers. I'd bring over a team of half a dozen or a dozen people who really knew what they were on about to train the local teachers and get their pedagogy up to scratch, and I'd pay those trainers handsomely, set them up in nice apartments while they were here, etc. I'd implement a hardcore professional development programme that might end up being something like 100 hours over a six month period. In parallel with that, I'd put certain English competency requirements in place for the local teachers. I would then attach real consequences (both rewards and punishments) for participation and achievement in those two programmes. I'd set a target of having foreign English teachers out of government schools within five years and having local teachers up to scratch in that time. As part of that, I'd ultimately want to get the foreign trainers to train local trainers. Further to all of that, I would run a whole lot of micro experiments across the country doing all sorts of different things. Those experiments that yielded promising results would then be expanded into larger experiments covering more students/schools. Over a five year period, they could completely revamp the entire system here.

There must be a dozen English villages in this country now. I think the above proposal could probably be done each year for the cost of establishing one English village per year (18 million NTD, i.e. 600,000 USD). Of course, it would never happen though.
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Re: Teaching in an English Village

Postby superking » 27 Apr 2012, 09:41

Asiababy,


wait...

The English village... invited your school to go there.... (did the school have to pay to go to the village) .... and to make sure your kids were able to understand the stuff going on at the English village.... you had to PRE TEACH them everything they were going to hear?

That is effed up, yo.

Still, the kids probably had fun. :D
There are millions of people in the world. And none of those people is an extra. They're all leads in their own stories.

If you lose one sense, your other senses are enhanced. That's why people with no sense of humour have an increased sense of self-importance.
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Re: Teaching in an English Village

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 27 Apr 2012, 09:58

superking: The standard procedure when I worked at an English village was that at some point throughout the year, every single kid in the fifth grade in our county would go to one of the three English villages in our county, but only once. Each kid paid 250NTD to cover some of the running costs (though this also covered lunch). The actual English village time was all day, but they only did four periods in the English village (the rest was an introduction and debriefing, entirely in Chinese, by our supervisor).

The elementary school English teachers were allotted two periods to prepare the kids for their English village trip. Some schools did this (and their students knew the dialogues perfectly). Many didn't, however, because they used the time to catch up on material they were behind on with the standard curriculum (so we absolutely struggled with those students). The whole thing was incredibly flawed. Look up my account of when the university professors came to assess our English village. That's a bizarre one.
And you coming in to scold us all like some kind of sour-puss kindie assistant who favors olive cardigans and lemon drinks without sugar. -- Muzha Man

One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words "Socialism" and "Communism" draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, "Nature Cure" quack, pacifist, and feminist in England. -- George Orwell
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Re: Teaching in an English Village

Postby asiababy » 27 Apr 2012, 10:27

superking wrote:Asiababy,


wait...

The English village... invited your school to go there.... (did the school have to pay to go to the village) .... and to make sure your kids were able to understand the stuff going on at the English village.... you had to PRE TEACH them everything they were going to hear?

That is effed up, yo.


In a nutshell, yes. The material had nothing to do with what they had covered in their English class, and I would guess with no consideration of what they are actually taught. I don't blame the native English speakers for this as they probably have no idea what kids learn in their regular classes, but it just highlights the holes in the program. We were told in the preparation material that the kids didn't have to actually understand the parts the teachers said, they only had to to answer the questions, isn't that crazy? The teacher says, "Would you like to pay by cash or credit card?" The student has to answer, "By credit card, thank you." They are not actually expected to know what that means. Also, they had to do some cloze dialogs and compete against other schools, so if they don't understand what they are reading, how can they fill out the dialog? Anyway, I couldn't stand to see the kids go along and waste an educational opportunity, so I made sure they at least knew what they were reading out and that they could spell and say the vocabulary. (I heard that other schools don't bother preparing, they just go along blind, but I'm supposing they have more kids who attend cram schools and have higher levels of English than our kids do.)


Still, the kids probably had fun.

When the kids came back, their main complaint was that the competing school used the young University Graduate that stays at school as part of his military training on their team. His English was really good and he ran faster than my fifth graders, so they couldn't keep up, and didn't get any prizes. They couldn't believe the other school were so serious about winning they would resort to that tactic. I think they felt really cheated, actually.
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Re: Teaching in an English Village

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 27 Apr 2012, 12:01

Wow, that sounds like a particularly demoralising experience for them. There were never contests at our English village (and only one school at a time), and there certainly wouldn't have been any adults allowed to compete even if there had been.
And you coming in to scold us all like some kind of sour-puss kindie assistant who favors olive cardigans and lemon drinks without sugar. -- Muzha Man

One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words "Socialism" and "Communism" draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, "Nature Cure" quack, pacifist, and feminist in England. -- George Orwell
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Re: Teaching in an English Village

Postby tomthorne » 27 Apr 2012, 13:07

You'd have thought that someone might have queried the massive great soldier elbowing past the kids in order to make his team win.
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Re: Teaching in an English Village

Postby superking » 27 Apr 2012, 14:51

So ENGLISH VILLAGE is a place that all kids in the county go to. The parents pay to send their kids there for the day. You have to pre-teach them the material. When they go there the only take home message is arbitrary. HA HA. That is an amusement park, clearly. CRACKERLAND. Still, I bet it is a good job if you are young and up for some fun.
There are millions of people in the world. And none of those people is an extra. They're all leads in their own stories.

If you lose one sense, your other senses are enhanced. That's why people with no sense of humour have an increased sense of self-importance.
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