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Shifu

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Q: How to make English Corners not a nightmare?

I don't get what an English Corner is, or what the Chinese expect out of one. Some of them:

1) Want to passively absorb English.
2) Insist that they talk a lot, and I correct their mistakes. But if I do correct those mistakes they lose face and have a hissy fit.
3) They are convinced that an English corner will teach them more than a regular class, but they get angry if I do anything resembling teaching.
4) English corners in my school can have over thirty people, the students range from absolute beginners to advanced, teenagers to fifty years old. But they will be offended if it is too easy or difficult, or if it is a topic they are not personally interested in. But they insist that the format is the most waterproof way of learning English. They see no conflict between the format and the things bother them about the format. wtf?

I don't know what an English Corner is, I don't know what it is supposed to do, or what I am supposed to do there. They seem to think a good English corner is "magical psychic foreigner time" but my English Corners are increasingly turning into me being really pissed off and some Chinese adults whining like babies.

7 years 50 weeks ago in  Teaching & Learning - China

 
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It's purpose is to get you laid. Come ON Man. 

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7 years 50 weeks ago
 
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Shifu

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Sorry I'm not a teacher but my company has tried to talk me into doing one of these.   I refused on the fact that there must be seperate ones for the various English levels and I'm not spending all my free time on this.  

I did work with one company that had this once a week without an actual teacher (take in mind they were engineers or lab techs).  They were given a choice of three or four subjects that each had to present in English in front of everyone else (time to study exactly what to say).  Then everyone watching had to ask at least one question to the presenter.  So the basic speaker could show the simple explaination and get the easy questions that first came to peoples' minds. And afterwards the more advanced could explain in more details and get the harder questions that people had to work to come up with.

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7 years 50 weeks ago
 
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Show up drunk. Over and over. Eventually you will be fired...or they see the error of their ways. Or read Moby Dick. They also see the error of their ways.

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7 years 50 weeks ago
 
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It's purpose is to get you laid. Come ON Man. 

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7 years 50 weeks ago
 
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Sounds pretty typical of an English Corner. My college started one a month or two ago. I hate being involved, but I'm the only foreigner at this school, and my friend is head of the English club. She takes care of everything, I just show up, which means it can be pretty boring. The first few weeks, she picked some strange questions, and had the students debate topics that weren't really debateable, like "Should students care about fashion in college?" Now it's going a bit better. She picks 6 English phrases she finds on the internet (most sound a little unnatural, or would only be used for very specific occassions) and the students try to memorize them. Then 2 or 3 of them will take the phrases and put them all together in one conversation and do a sort of group performance for the other attendees. While this can be really funny, it's not very practical, because those phrases would never be in the same conversation in real life. Despite all of this, she never asks me for ideas, which seems kind of stupid. Also, there is usually some game I have never heard of that another student will find online. I don't like group games very much, but they seem to like it. Unfortunately, she will be graduating in a month, and another girl will be taking over, and I feel it will be a total trainwreck. What really sucks is that it's on a Friday night for an hour and a half, which seems too long to me.

I do have to say, that all of them that attend do want to learn English and never get pissy, although many are very shy. They're all college students. Quite a few are my students, who show up because they know I will be there. But yeah, an English corner isn't any more helpful than a normal class, but it gives them a chance to practice with eachother, even if it is only a few sentences. Most say they are too shy to participate. China has changed my view of the word "shy." In America, I'm fairly shy, but here it makes me seem like an outgoing person! They take shy to a whole new level.

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7 years 50 weeks ago
 
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Alot of people who show up have a small level of English, so it's constantly 2 minutes after you've answered the "common questions", another brave student steps up to the marker and asks you the same ones all over again.

Of course good for them, but heartbreaking for a poor teacher.

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7 years 50 weeks ago
 
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It's circumsized language learning.

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7 years 50 weeks ago
 
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i love being surrounded by ignorant nationalists , asked the same 5 questions 20 times. i especially enjoy when they ask questions they know their govt wont allow us to talk about. i will never do another one again

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7 years 50 weeks ago
 
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A friend once talked me into attending an English corner with him.  Over 200 Chinese and 3 foreigners.

There was no structure, it was basically 200 people all trying to talk with me at the same time so they could practice their English.  And they all asked the same questions.

I kind of felt sorry for them because I have done hundreds of networking events and I know that the basic questions are how you get to know people you have never met.  But it really can ware on you after a short while.

There was one girl who sat near me most of the night and she actually started ripping people apart for asking me the same questions over and over.  I didn't need to get angry at all, she handled it really well for me.  :)

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7 years 50 weeks ago
 
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Simple answer: don't go! Smile

I went to a few, because I actually cared about the people who were going. I do see it as quite different to a normal classroom, because you actually get the ones who are interested in English - as against have been told that's what their major will be.

The 6 questions over and over grinds - but it's easy to teach the students how annoying it is, so I don't have to deal with the new person.

I see the biggest problem being with the know-it-alls. I was in the middle of a conversation with a girl who asked about sex before marriage, and other moralistic questions (I like those!!), and this older tosser decided to interrupt me and her constantly with completely unrelated statements in the form of rhetorical questions, which had nothing of use except to boost his ego by showing off his English skill... so I brought him back down Smile Him:  "Sydney is a great city, isn't it?", md: "Actually, most Australians hate Sydney, cos it's noisy, polluted, busy, etc, much like Shanghai and Beijing" (knowing that most students, while wanting to go to BJ and SH, don't really like it for those reasons).

But, being mobbed by 30 students as soon as you walk in is really crappy!

English conversation room was much better - maybe a dozen people, all quite willing to do their own thing after they've said 'hi' to you... and then have intelligent discussions.

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7 years 50 weeks ago
 
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What we do is, say there are 3 foreign teachers, we split the english corner into 3 groups, then the teachers circulate each group, say, every 30 minutes.

This way you don't have the exact same thing for the whole time.

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7 years 50 weeks ago
 
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English corners organised by the schools tend to be a nightmare, so I just don't go. The informal English corners on Sundays in the park, or near the universities, are often OK, if you can circulate. And like nevermind said, it is a great way to meet women.

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7 years 47 weeks ago
 
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The idea of an English corner is to enforce the new vocabulary in a real life environment.  Many of the students do not get this and are there to either just listen, which is ok as they get very little listening, or they are there to dominate the conversation, if this is the case you must shut them down and allow others to talk.
To do a good Enlhish corner you must go in prepared, have a topic and persent that tpipci in clear and precise languiage for all to understand, then you must give the student a chance to perpare their responses and allow them to do just that. Putting them in groups and have one or two present their opinions on this topic usually works very well as it give them the chance to figure things out before they talk. Do not expect too much from them and be prepared to ask question to get more precise answers from them.
Role playing works very well, as does open discussion. Silly senarios and last but not least something controversial.

You must be perpared to draw the answers from them and mostly they end up with you asking them many questiosn to get one answer from them.

They can be a lot of fun and yes you can get laid a lot after if you can stimulate the right topic the right way.

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7 years 47 weeks ago

Come on thumbs down everything I say. rnrnPlease I like it thumbs down some more.

 
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Play a friendly game of poker that way everyone won't be so noisy. Everytime somebody loses or gets out put them in a corner with the other players that got out and let them do their work/studying etc., After you get to the final two players and its a heads up game you can let everybody gather around and watch the final two players challenging each other.

They seem to think a good English corner is "magical psychic foreigner time" but my English Corners are increasingly turning into me being really pissed off and some Chinese adults whining like babies.

If your good at playing poker they might think your a magical psychic foreigner because you know the odds better than them. What that sounds like is a poker game, turning someone really pissed off and some adults whining like babies. Guess there wouldn't be much difference from playing poker or having an English Corner like you say. At least you can have some fun while you hear the whining and they make you pissd'!

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7 years 47 weeks ago
 
Posts: 333

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It's the best not to have an English corner, so no nightmares. There are many ways to learn a languages, Chinese students are really lame in learning foreign languages, they always want others to arrange everythings then they just follow it. For English teachers, if you really want to help their language,you should teach them how to socializing firstly, ask them to finish watching 3 hollywood movies before class, have skype talk with foreign ppl in the foreign countries, etc.(it's pretty easy than talkin with foreigners here in the country)...cool

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7 years 47 weeks ago

I like a snowy Happy new year, rather than a no sky one...Beijing's time to ban the cars---the only solution for the time being...

 
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I do not teach here but attend an informal English corner every Sunday morning and I think it is great fun. Yes you do get the repeat questions but I do not let it get to me, after all the same question from six people is only a repeat for me, for each of them it is a new question even if it is not too imaginative. Where I go there can be anything from three to eight westerners and of real mix of Chinese, aged from six to seventy. You do need to watch out for the one's who want to dominate the conversation, I let them have their time and then concentrate usually on one of the children. I do not limit my subjects but will discuss anything that comes up. Last Sunday we had religion, politics, Santa Claus, traditional English Christmas dinner and school. There is one young girl of about six years who has come with her mum to see me for the last four weeks. The fist three weeks she was so shy she hid behind her mum, but last time she suddenly started talking, she probably decided this strange foreign person was safe after all!! My Sunday mornings there are split between talking to children and adults and gives me a chance to learn about China as well, so it really is a two way street. I know many of the people who go now as they always stop by to chat for a while, and whilst I am married if I were single it would be a great way to meet genuine women. As I say I have fun doing it, just let the one or two negatives go over your head, the positives outweigh the negatives anyway.

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7 years 47 weeks ago
 
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Additional thought following on from my last answer. I do not think English corner is there to teach English, it is there to allow people the chance to practice the English they already have. There is a differnce between someone learning, as in a new lesson, and practice in a social situation. Maybe that is why some of the posts seem to reflect a negative attitude to it, they are coming at it from the wrong angle.

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7 years 47 weeks ago
 
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If the English Corner is sponsored by a school they will try to recruit both student and teachers or try to sell something - like books, tapes, or language software.  The English corner at Renmin University is pretty cool and most people go there to network or find a partner. It's every Fiday night near the East gate from 7;00pm to about 10:pm - about 800 people.

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5 years 41 weeks ago
 
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I used to study in Renmin University in Beijing, it has one of the best English Corners on the campus. Every Friday night, people all over Beijing would drive there to practice English from after dinner till midnight, Chinese, foreigners, there's only one rule, just be there and speak English!

 

 

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3 years 24 weeks ago
 
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