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How to teach English to Chinese students

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Understanding the proper way to teach English to Chinese students may present some challenges due to the vast differences between the two languages. However, both you and your students can experience success if you follow some basic tips and familiarize yourself with the most common difficulties for Chinese students learning English.

Basic Communications. If your Chinese speaking students speak little or no English, you’ll need to find a way to teach basic classroom procedures and instructions. Likewise, it is essential for you to help the students express their wants and needs to you. If the students are upper elementary level or higher and read Mandarin Chinese fluently, using bilingual communications sentence sheets are one way to get started. For example, a bilingual, Chinese - English handout with sentences such as I need to use the bathroom ( 我需要使用卫生间) or I need help (我需要帮助) will be beneficial.

Use Flash Cards. Picture flash cards are effective for teaching basic English vocabulary to Chinese students and can also be used to express wants and needs. Picture flash cards are readily available at department stores, toy stores and dollar stores at a cost of just a few dollars or less. In addition to using flash cards, ESL students of Chinese background will benefit from classroom labels which should be placed on all classroom objects.

Picture Dictionaries. Make sure your classroom contains a variety of picture dictionaries from basic to advanced. It is also advisable to have bilingual, Chinese – English dictionaries on hand for advanced students. Likewise, bilingual online dictionaries will also enhance and support the learning process.

Chinese students learning English generally have difficulty with pronounciation and grammar. You will probably find that their listening and reading skills will develop faster than their ability to speak. Thus, you may wish to focus on teaching conversation skills. Provide ample time for speaking practice by making use of role play activities, interviews, and other activities that foster oral communication.

Although teaching English to native Chinese speakers presents many challenges, it can be a rewarding experience.

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