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Posts: 63

Governor

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Q: A question for English Teachers in China...

So here's the deal...

 

I am not a real teacher (well, at least never taught adults). Now my company wants me to teach English to few managers and employees so they are more comfortable dealing with US clients. The problem is my grammar, intonations, word stress is all good, but the real problem is IPA (international phonetics alphabets). And since is Chinese is all about pronunciation, and it is drilled into their heads that pronunciation is the way to learn a language. But if I ask them what do they feel about which pronunciation is right English, American or British... the reaction is always a "Facepalm". 

 

How to set the expectations? or do I just learn the IPA myself? Is it really important? 

 

 

7 years 17 weeks ago in  Teaching & Learning - Suzhou

 
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Governor

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IPA is not some abstruse system thatnew initiates to a language-based profession spend decades mastering. We really are talking bare minimum effort, here--it takes maybe a day or two to understand. The IPA that they use here isn't even the 'real' one, it's just a handful of simplified symbols. I don't think that it is so critical to teaching, but it will give you your student's respect ( and a basic knowlegde of phonetics and phonics can only help you as a teacher).

I agree with others that Chinese employers are not worth any kind of dedication. I have lived and worked in many countries, and I consider every entity that I have worked for here to be the absolute picture of lazy, self-involved worthlessness. I can almost guarantee you that you owe your current employer zero effort (shoot, I work for one of the top ten unis in China...if I walk out on these idiots before the end of the semester, they would deserve it)...but what do you owe yourself? Just because this culture encourages people to be useless, does not mean you should let it turn you into an LBH.

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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
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Posts: 63

Governor

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any help will be highly appreciated... 

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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
Posts: 1304

Shifu

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IPA is useless for teaching. They just want to learn how to hold a conversation and some business related terms. 

Strawberry66:

That's what those employees expect I suppose.

7 years 17 weeks ago
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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
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You are taking this way too seriously. This is China, not a meritocracy, do the minimum to get by and your boss will be satisfied. International schools here don't teach IPA, why would you bother to do so?

Strawberry66:

 I sort of agree. But still have to teach as best as you can do.

7 years 17 weeks ago
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indalkar:

Thanks, How do you explain this to them though?... For example, yesterday "responsibility" popped up... I could explain them to pronounce it with right syllable stress, but before that one chick got up and asked me how to write the sound... It's really difficult to teach absolute beginners (my Chinese is pretty basic). if they have fair knowledge of English, you can easily get by teaching them basic stuff, but beginners are tough...

7 years 17 weeks ago
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Strawberry66:

Ha. I can teach IPA. Let me teach them instead. Well,joking. A native pronouncation is better than a non native.

Why your company want people who have no knowledage of English to deal with the American market? I have never seen stupid things happen in Shanghai. Where is your company based?

7 years 17 weeks ago
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7 years 17 weeks ago
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Strawberry66:

Really it is so funny to teach the employees to speak English for exploring a foreign market. Especially a native English speaking market. If I were the client,I won't bother myself talking with a Chinese who even can't hold a simple English conversation. That's my point.

7 years 17 weeks ago
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Strawberry66:

I am sure your company would be very happy to get me for doing the work instead if I were in your city. I do think Chinese people in small cities generally lack of good English ability.

I guess I could probally get much more payment than I can get in Shanghai if I go work for international company's branch in small cities where the competition is less and I can sell myself at a higher price.^^

7 years 17 weeks ago
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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
Posts: 458

Governor

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IPA is not some abstruse system thatnew initiates to a language-based profession spend decades mastering. We really are talking bare minimum effort, here--it takes maybe a day or two to understand. The IPA that they use here isn't even the 'real' one, it's just a handful of simplified symbols. I don't think that it is so critical to teaching, but it will give you your student's respect ( and a basic knowlegde of phonetics and phonics can only help you as a teacher).

I agree with others that Chinese employers are not worth any kind of dedication. I have lived and worked in many countries, and I consider every entity that I have worked for here to be the absolute picture of lazy, self-involved worthlessness. I can almost guarantee you that you owe your current employer zero effort (shoot, I work for one of the top ten unis in China...if I walk out on these idiots before the end of the semester, they would deserve it)...but what do you owe yourself? Just because this culture encourages people to be useless, does not mean you should let it turn you into an LBH.

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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
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As others have said, just prepare your lessons with a few key words from the dictionary spelled out in phonetics...should work.

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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
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Emperor

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Rachel's right, the IPA is not difficult to learn and if you have a class that knows it, it can be a very useful shortcut.

Vicky, if your teachers had no idea of the IPA then I suspect they were not really teachers, they were dancing monkeys playing a part.

Strawberry66:

You are probally right. They told me that they have never learned about IPA.

I guess only those native speakers who majoyed English teaching would study IPA at school.

7 years 17 weeks ago
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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
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Emperor

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Use this site:

http://www.iciba.com/responsibility

British pronunciation on the left, American on the right

 

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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
Posts: 96

Governor

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Yeah, I can concur with other users here that IPA is not that hard to learn and is quite easy once you start to use it a few times.  In the textbook I like to use, it helps a lot with words that are reduced (will try to add picture).  Also you can do a search on bing.com on "IPA chart".  Also almost all of my students have known what it is and for the most part can say the words better then if I actually wrote the real words.   Sorry if picture is gigantic.

Strawberry66:

Did/did/ british

You/ju/ british

7 years 17 weeks ago
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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
Posts: 63

Governor

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let me ask this to everyone (Specially Chinese people),.. you say native pronunciation is better then non native... lets take two of the major accents British and American (I am not saying they have a accent- It simply the way of speaking)... since both are native English speaking countries. Which is the right one? you know it better if you try to copy any of them, you will end up sounding weird, for example - Chinese have problems rolling their R and N (mostly "NO" is always a "LO")... why wouldn't Chinese try to just speak English as the way they are comfortable. Like Indians do (accent sounds funny but it still understandable by most)... End of the day if Americans are doing business with a foreigners, they expect you to speak differently.

Strawberry66:

Both are the right one as most people in the world are trying to copy the accents from the two major accents. I have no idea what the indians are talking about as I have got used to the American and English accent. Chinese copy the way the Amerians and English speak are good I think,it will enable other people to undertstand our way of speaking more even it does sound weird on some words.

7 years 17 weeks ago
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Shining_brow:

Everyone has an accent.The one you don't hear is the one you sound like - and is what is 'normal' for you.

 

"British" and "American"... which versions? There are many different accents in England, and many in America. Some you would definitely NOT understand.

 

Just go for something that is easily understood by most people. Understanding is far more important than which accent you copy..

7 years 17 weeks ago
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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
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Chinese students who were taught English were also taught the IPA. It makes things much easier!!! However, there are some sounds that, even with IPA, they still won't be able to reproduce well unless you drill it. /zh/ of 'treasure' or 'usual' are 2 examples. (ever heard '/urali/??).

 

You should become familiar with IPA if they are familiar with it. Use examples (marry, Mary, merry is a good example! In most US accents, those 3 sound the same, in some British, 2 are the same, and the other different... in Australian English, all 3 words have a slightly different pronunciation).

 

Also, go with a whole stack of set phrases which we would actually use - not what locals think we say... eg, "hi, how you going?", not "Hi, how are you? I'm fine thank you, and you?"

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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
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Chinese schools sometimes use English Phonetics, which is just a fraction of IPA due to English's limited sounds and extra reduction for simplified learning. 44 symbols i believe. it's so easy, i could type phonetic symbols if there was a keyboard. it's of limited use to learners because of poor grasp of phonic sounds. can't explain why exactly, but it's definitely cultural. at least it helps people read pronunciation in dictionaries. for young kids, simple phonics starts them off, to get rid of those awful pinyin sounds.

as for American vs. London english, it takes a while to explain that people shouldn't go to MacD's in New York and ask for a hambuhguh, even though that's what English dictionaries dictate. i tell people that US (coastal) english is closer to neutral speech, and American is usually what they want to emulate anyway. it's cooluh (a pinyin error)

Shining_brow:

So, what do you order in McD in NY?

7 years 17 weeks ago
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coineineagh:

hæmbərgər

7 years 17 weeks ago
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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
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I'm not a real teacher either but I do have some handle on English.  I stress pronunciation and try to explain what constitutes Chinglish.  I dissuade memorization and encourage exposure to real English, by whatever means, as often as possible.  After 5 years I would say I've achieved virtually zero. 

 

icnif77:

You have to be realistic. When you work in the class with 50 students, your impact as FT is much lower than in smaller classes.

Currently, I'm working in International class with 7 students on IELTS prep. In a month, I've changed their habit of sitting in the class like a sack of potatoes. Asking Qs, notebook paraphrasing, HWork, organized handouts, and such.

Chinese Head is also confirming about students active English improved. Chinese Chemistry teacher is attending our classes in her free time, because she wants to improve her Oral English for her PhD.

Probably, I'm looking into teaching Oral English in regular classes in new semester.

In Fuk., I worked in 50 students classes, and whoever wanted to improve her/his English had a chance to do it, but some of the students didn't give rat arse about English, and.....I happily collected my pay.surprise

7 years 17 weeks ago
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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
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I teach English and am currently teaching an adult class and honestly, when I'm lesson planning it's so stressful as I've never taught business it was just thrown at me by my school, write some key vocab, get them to make sentences or fill in blanks and then get an article related to it and have them read out loud! It works well with my class, choose a theme for each week, if you need a hand mail me

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7 years 17 weeks ago
 
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Chinglish, Texacan, if you can make yourself understood then you are communicating effectively. Most people in the world who learn English probably learn it not to communicate with 'native' speakers but to communicate with non 'native' speakers. German businessmen may learn it to communicate with their Chinese counterparts as each may not speak the other's language. English too, appears to be the lingua franca of tourism. In some countries  local warring factions may know one another 's local dialect but refuse to communicate in the 'other's' language but instead use 'English'. In England and Ireland there are multitudes of different accents and beautiful they are too as they define who and where people come from. Less so in Australia and the US. Chinglish, Texacan, Indian English and many more such as the spoken English of Indigenous people of Australia define who these people are. They have adopted and adapted 'English' and created their own version that is tied up with their own identity. If it (Chinglish etc) can be understood, celebrate diversity.  

Shining_brow:

This directly relates to the OP's problem of how to teach to Chinese businessmen... how, exactly?

7 years 15 weeks ago
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7 years 16 weeks ago
 
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I am not a real teacher (well, at least never taught adults). Now my company wants me to teach English to a few managers and employees so that they are more comfortable dealing with US clients. The problem is that my grammar, intonations and word stress are all good, but the real problem is IPA (international phonetic alphabet).  Chinese is all about pronunciation, and it is drilled into their heads that pronunciation is the way to learn a language.  However, if I ask them which pronunciation is correct English, American or British... the reaction is always a "dunno".

 

Please don't teach English if you can't write English.

 

P.S.  A facepalm is a reaction to an unbelievably stupid comment.  e.g. I facepalmed when I read your OP.

indalkar:

Thank you Man/woman/girl/boy, I feeling lucky that your first posting was in telling me, my english sucking so badly. If you did never told me i will never have known that you said my Inglish is not good cool... hope you kan teaching me something about Inglish,

how about reading first?, let's read the koschan one more timing. I am asking if the IPA is emportant in teaching, I did not also to ask if I should try teaching or not teaching... After I am telling that I am not a teacher neither I am interesting in teaching, I was been forcing to teach... you don't understanding?

7 years 15 weeks ago
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7 years 15 weeks ago
 
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Dont give a shit about the question..

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7 years 14 weeks ago
 
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I have my students learn the phonics of all 26 English letter sounds - Heck, if they can learn and memorize thousands of more complex Chinese characters, why can't they master the mere 26 letters of the English alphabet? So, I encourage them NOT to rely on IPS if they really want to learn English; I tell them the substitution is a waste of time (unless we are trying to learn and pronounce other languages we cannot read, like perhaps Mongolian, Arabic or Thai, or other non-Romanized writing systems)!

Through practicing real English (via reading & speaking), they should become familiar with the varied combinations of English words to be close enough to pronounce on there own! As a foreign teacher, I do not do Chinese way to teach English. I've been at it for over ten years. by the way. My students actually appreciate it - Think about it. If you have an adult (business or college) student who has studied English for 7-10 years (since middle school), but still needs to rely on IPS to say words has not truly studied English, but has learned only a side-track method!

Shining_brow:

How many pronunciations for the combination 'ough'?

 

How do you say "ghoti"?

 

That's why I think the IPA is useful.

7 years 13 weeks ago
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7 years 13 weeks ago
 
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A: Teaching English in China Requirements for 2022 (chinabyteaching.com)&
A:Teaching English in China Requirements for 2022 (chinabyteaching.com) This link will answer your visa questions. There is NOT a requirement for two years experience to be a teacher in China.  If you come with your husband under a different visa, make sure you have all the required documentation to get a Z visa when you find a job in China. It will make your life much easier.  To work in China, you MUST have a Z visa and only a Z visa.  -- nashboroguy