Round 2 for English teachers
September 27, 2019
Thirty-five teachers and other staff from educational technology centers from six western provinces and regions in China gathered in Shanghai on Wednesday to launch a training program for English teachers.
The program is the second round of a project initiated by China’s National Center Educational Technology and EF Education First last year to train at least 3,000 English teachers in western rural areas in China in three years.
The first round began in autumn last year and ended in August this year, with 1,000 rural teachers from Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region having applied for a six-month online training session. Among them, 100 were selected to take part in an offline training session and 10 won the opportunity to have a 10-day training and cultural tour in the UK in August.
In the second round, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region will be added into the program, which will open to 1,200 teachers.
Han Jun, deputy director of the National Center for Educational Technology, said the project was an important trial for using information technology to improve the teaching abilities of rural English teachers.
“Improving the teaching ability of teachers is crucial for children to learn the language,” he said. “We have been looking for more efficient and easier ways for children to learn English, but the situation in China is that teachers need to improve their own English language skills and teaching ability. It’s more serious in rural areas in China’s western regions as they lack teachers and practice, and information technology is now being used to help them.”
Han said he was glad to see that the first batch of teachers had showed great interest and devotion in the program.
Jean Liu, chief corporate affairs officer of EF, said 90 percent of the first batch of teachers eventually participated in online classes, 60 percent finished courses for two proficiency levels and over 100 finished 16 levels. The percentages are very high for online training, Liu said.
Liu Lin, an English teacher at a high school in Leibo Town in Sichuan Province who attended the first round of training, said the program had improved both his own English skills and teaching capability.
“Most teachers in rural areas have received English education in traditional ways, which were test-oriented,” he said. “We might be as good as our peers in advanced cities in grammar and vocabulary, but we are not as good as they are in listening, pronunciation and speaking, especially in practical English skills in real life. This program filled the gaps in our previous training.”
He said the whole program offered training not only in language skills, such as pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, listening and speaking, but also teaching skills, including class arrangement, activity designs and assessment methods.
“I learned a lot of activities and games to increase students’ interest and interact with them in class,” he said. “Students need to practice by themselves instead of just listening to teachers while learning English. The training broadened my mind in teaching.
“Meanwhile, my learning experience can also inspire my students. They used to see English as a requirement of the college entrance exam, but when I show them the pictures and videos of my study and travel in the UK, they’ve realized it’s a basic skill in life now,” he added.
EF’s Jean Liu said this year it will try to arrange more offline training and the trip in the UK for teachers to enable them to learn more.
In the second round, participating teachers will also be assessed on their English proficiency at the beginning and the end of the training to see how much they have improved.
The National Center Educational Technology and EF Education First will also track their teaching and assess students’ performance later to see the effect of training.
Liu said it was hoped the program would be extended to train 10,000 rural teachers in 10 years in the western regions.