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Katie Park

The student teaching class I participated in was a first year Chinese drill session. The
class meets every Tuesday and it starts from 2:40pm to 3:30pm. Most of the students first
language is English and the rest of the students first language is either Spanish or Korean. The
majority of the students are beginner Chinese learners. They are placed in class at the right level
based on their placement test results. They choose to learn Chinese because many of them are
majoring in East Asian Studies and it is required to take a language course to fulfil their major
requirements. Some of them think Chinese is the most useful language besides English and the
cultural differences between Chinese and American attracted them to make the decision on
learning Chinese.
The teacher of the session usually spends two classes on one chapter of a textbook. The
teacher uses Approach China textbook as the main teaching material. Since it is a first year
Chinese class, students are learning the traditional Chinese characters. As they progress to the
next level, the second year Chinese, they will start learning the simplified Chinese characters.
The drill session I observed was mainly a structure-based teaching. I saw the teacher was
only focused on the accuracy, the correct use of the grammars and the accuracy of how a
language is used in a speech. The classroom activities were not related to students real life
situations. The teacher provided all the answers and students only needed to repeat the same
sentences after the teacher. From my last student teaching observation, Ive noticed there were
only few students who spoke a lot and seemed to enjoy the class. And rest of the students did not

participate at all and looked bored. I felt like it is because the drill session was more teachercentered teaching and emphasized overly on the language forms. The class tasks did not simulate
any real life situations where students may feel familiar with or related to. Therefore, I decided to
have a different teaching approach which was mainly focused on communicative language.
The drill session teacher made a copy of the chapter consisting of all the vocabularies and
six types of grammar structures that they were supposed to practice from the textbook. Based on
the teaching materials I received from the teacher, I came up with some real life related activities
that may require students to use the sentence structure or vocabularies they have already learned
in the previous class. My goal was to have every student to participate and make the lesson more
enjoyable so the students wont lose their interests. One of my objectives was to see if the
students are able to use what they have learned in the previous classes and apply that knowledge
in a real life situation.
It was very challenging for me to design my activities because I had no idea about their
pre-learning, vocabularies, grammars and sentence structures. Since the drill session teacher
provided me teaching materials, I was basically relying on that material to create my lesson plan.
I realized that it is very important for me to know the students well in all aspects, like their prelearning, interests, background and etc., because it will help me to prepare for a better activity
that will not only review their previous lesson but can also benefit them in their real life
situations. And without knowing their pre-learning experiences, I was limited to focus on the
vocabularies and sentence structures from their textbook. However, I tried to create activities and
situations that may relate to them so that my teaching is not only focusing on language forms.

This was my first teaching experience and I was extremely nervous. I was constantly
looking at my note to make sure I cover all my activities. However, during the activities, I knew
clearly what was my objective and what I wanted my students to focus on. I wanted to focus on
meanings over the forms when they interacted with each other. I offered my help when they were
unable to express their thoughts or ideas. After the teaching, I decided to keep all my notes, the
materials the drill session teacher provided, my teaching materials, and all my scraps I used
while I was designing my activities. I think every teaching process and experiences are precious
for a teacher and I also want to keep it for my future reference when I have another chance to
teach in the future.
Since I recorded my own teaching, I was able to share the video with a third person and
asked for his/her opinion. The feedback I received from a friend was that she can tell I was very
nervous but the class participation was high and everyone seemed to like the activities since the
classroom were filled with laughs. At first, I worried that they might not want to participate since
the participation was very low during the time I observed the class. Surprisingly, everyone was
very eager to come up and participate in the role plays I created. I gave them some situations and
they needed to act it out in front of the class. I told them there was no limitation on what they can
say. I wasnt strict on grammars or vocabularies and they were freed to use any sentence
structures or words they are comfortable or familiar with. I believed by this way, the students can
try to speak more and not be afraid of talking. And they actually did. I just needed to help and
correct them a little when they forgot or unable to express themselves in a new word or sentence.
Our third role play was not as successful as the first two we did. Students did not enjoy as much

as they have already expected and knew whats next. Although the last role play was not a big
success and not as much fun, my students still raised their hands and wanted to participate. I
think the reason might be that students felt and knew the importance of communicative language
and were interested or motivated to practice with the speaking activities. And my teaching
approach had provided them the chance to communicate in real life situations. Overall, I think
the role plays were nearly a success for my class since everyone was challenged to speak at their
own level of proficiency. We laughed and had so much fun during these activities.
When we practiced a question form S sb + Question Form and S + Question
Form, I had my students to do this situational grammar exercise. They worked in pair and asked
each other any five questions. They were free to use any words they are familiar with and answer
each others questions with the provided grammar patterns. Later, I had individuals shared two of
the questions his or her partners asked. When one of the students asked me if we needed to use
HE twice I thought of PPT or TPP. Therefore, instead of answering his question yes or no, I
asked him to tell me how he answered to his partner first and then provided him the answer.
Generally, my students were the ones dominated the classroom in terms of the amount of
speaking and I was nearby to assist them and to make sure they have conversation with each
other in Chinese.
Although I was focused on communicative language teaching this time, I realized that I
was weak in explaining the sentence structures and it was not easy for me to organize my
thoughts as I explained. From this student teaching experience, I have learned my weakness and
I also realized I should try to prepare well so that I can explain the lesson in a more
comprehensible way for students to understand better. Depending on a students goal, I should

also be able to teach structure-based language or communicative language as a teacher. I also

learned my mistake that I should not have repeated using the same activity in a lesson. These
mistakes and experience will also help me to build a better foundation for my teaching in the