Give Students a Chance to Think and Practice

Last day of training in Feicheng City, Shandong Province, China. Tomorrow we begin the three-day trek back home.

I wish to share with you the speech I gave this morning at the closing ceremonies:

Many years ago, I heard a quote that shaped the way I have taught my students. It goes like this: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” As you probably know, this quote is from your great teacher, Confucius.

You know that if you only talk to your students, and your students simply listen, they will probably forget what you say and learn very little. If you show them pictures when you are talking, they might remember, for a while…if they are paying attention. However, when you show the students what to do, if you practice with the students, and then give them a chance to practice on their own, you are giving them the opportunity to DO. You are helping them to understand, to remember, and to learn.

I told you that everything I taught you has the same focus. Everything you’ve learned will help your students to THINK. By DOING….by WRITING, your students will think more deeply. They will understand more about the English language and more about themselves and their world.

Give your students many opportunities to write. You do not always need to give them long writing assignments. Give them short assignments…a few words or sentences can help them to practice a skill, for example, using vocabulary words correctly, using verbs correctly, or using the right punctuation in a sentence.

Make sure that your students write something every day. Make them write words. Make them write sentences. At some point, they will be able to write a paragraph and then a long passage. Use the Active Student Engagement Strategies that you learned from all of us. Use the Reading Strategies and the Writing Strategies. When you use the strategies, you are giving your students many opportunities to DO. You are giving them many opportunities to understand. You are giving them many opportunities to learn English.

I have enjoyed the past few weeks with you wonderful teachers, and I have learned that you are the best people on earth. I thank you for giving me the opportunity to understand you and your incredible Chinese culture. I leave you with another quote from Confucius: “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” I want to add to the great teacher’s words. “Whatever you teach, and whomever you teach, teach with all your heart.”  Thank you.

Our participants and the people of the education bureau and the four of us American trainers.

Our participants and the people of the education bureau and the four of us American trainers.

7 thoughts on “Give Students a Chance to Think and Practice

  1. Your speech is very helpful for me; I also teach English to Asians – there are many who come to live here with barely any knowledge of English. When I teach, I’m constantly reminding myself to let them do it so they understand, because I too have learnt Confucius’ quotation. Great post, Mona. I like what you’re doing with your retirement!

  2. Thank you Trish. I have trained teachers the past three summers and probably have learned more than I have taught. The teachers in this city are now getting away from lecturing from the podium and learning how to give the students a chance to be active participants in their learning.

  3. This is just how it must be. I am attending a writing group in our public library. This is just how to tell anecdotes from your own past. The lady who is in charge is an eighty six year old teacher. I learned so much about using English and thinking in English. I can write longer and more detailed piece today which, when I started a year back, I could not do. She gives us 5 words and you must write in 10 min on one of the words using your own experiences. (I’ve been a second language teacher for years and still could not really express myself easily in English)

    • Perfect response to my post! I truly appreciate your comments. If you do not mind, I will use the strategy of using five words & instructing students to write 10 minutes on one of the words using own experience. That sounds like a good exercise for a writer of any level.

      • It really works no matter how good you are. Your own experience is the important part of it. After the 10 min we quickly read our paragraphs. Most of the time there are things in the paragraph that would trigger some more writing. You can even give less time if they are beginners.

I'd love to hear what you think.

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