english speaking for work

The ability to speak English is part of an English teacher’s professional requirements. However, across the country, it is acknowledged that Chinese teachers of English are weak in spoken English. And the inability to use the language for a real life purpose is one of the reasons why ELT is so boring to many students.
I became the team leader of our grade’s English teachers last year. I had always wanted to speak English in the office but couldn’t without other teachers’ participation. I would have been considered mentally ill if I had talked to the wall or to myself in the office. Luckily, at the beginning of Grade 1, two younger members suggested we should speak English in the office and for our work. I gave my support to their idea at once, and others joined me.
The beginning was hard. We English teachers shared ONE office with the math teachers. So you can imagine the math teachers’ shock at our talking in a language they could not follow. Of course we ourselves felt uneasy when talked in English in the first few months. This was something unheard of in the school history. Our practice incurred misunderstanding and mocking, and fear. Some guys feared because they thought we were talking about them in English. And that is true. We found one of the benefits of talking in English was that secret could be shared among English teachers safely.
The English speaking program has benefited all of us. Firstly, playing with the language all the time has enabled us to acquire a degree of comfort with our mouth when we talk. Anyway, English is not our mother tongue. And our fluency has increased. The first few months saw us talking quite slowly. And these days all of us are able to converse much faster. Besides, our accuracy has been bettered too with better fluency. We have found that only by making some unavoidable mistakes are we able to kick those mistakes off. Also we have realized that when we Chinese talk English our mother language always interferes. It is a struggle to find the balance between the two languages. We also understand why Chinese English is unavoidable when the language is used in the Chinese context and in Chinese culture. The biggest gain is that our confidence has increased a lot over our ability to teach and work.
What has been started is something others still laugh at at times. We will turn their laughter into admiration one day.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. maysouthocean
    Oct 11, 2005 @ 11:06:42

    Hi, Shengliver. this is the first time i give comments to people on this blog, and i am so much impressed by ur desire and ur passion u r puting in ur work. I feel so much jealous about ur ability and strong will when u r trying to create such environment in ur office, yes, office is part of our taching life. Un fortunately, in our school . Even no single soul would like to make any efforts on it, including me. i am frustrated facing inrespect from my students. So much gloomliness occered to me. I am clear it’s not polite to be so frank to a new friend like u , but i an not help to . Sorry to occupy ur time to read my thoughts. hehe


  2. Shengliver
    Oct 11, 2005 @ 12:40:04

    Thanks, dear friend, for commenting here and for being candid. To be direct is my way. I hate beating around the bush.Teachers in China, especially those in high schools, are under stress. To be honest it is rather hard to maintain a friendly and cooperative relationship with coworkers. The system encourages individual excellence and discourages teamwork. But we can still make a difference.Do not feel so bad about yourself. Disrespectful students are everywhere. They are found in my classes, too. Anyway, without them, the world would be dull. Some colors would be missing.Thanks again. Hope to compare notes on our work from time to time.


  3. Peggy
    Oct 12, 2005 @ 13:29:46

    spoken english is weak point of english teaching in china. it is citical for developing confidences. i can tell that u LOVE ur job and i respect u. keep going!! Cheers!! ^O^


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