Monday, March 28, 2016

Introducing the Beauty of Taichung:演武場、光明國中、逢甲夜市

Creating an authentic environment for my students to speak the language and get to experience cultural exchanges are always the main ideas throughout this course of International Education. Toshi, a Japanese English teacher who is also a Global English alumni of the UO AEI, came to visit me during his trip to Taiwan this February. We toured places including 刑務演武場, 光明國中, 逢甲夜市 and 東豐自行車道. It was such a pleasant experience for me to introduce the beauty of Taichung to Toshi in English, and I also gained new perspectives from his points of view. What if I could duplicate what I learned and extend Toshi's visit to benefit my students by getting them to make oral presentations about the same tourist attractions?
Miracast with ScreenBeam Pro
Thanks a million to Toshi, he not only immediately showed his interest in this little project but kindly created PPT slides as his self-introduction intended to serve as an ice-breaking activity prior to my students' presentations. We spent an hour discussing the details about the video conferencing, complete with how I'd like to use my cell phone to wirelessly mirror everything on the big screen and also how Toshi would share the slides on the screen while doing the self-introduction. Because the midterm was around the corner, they didn't have plenty of time making adequate preparations as before, so I told them in advance that it was perfectly okay if they couldn't do their best. Moreover, Toshi also wanted me to reassure my students that they didn't have to worry about their imperfect English, which is also what I've been showing them during this course.

Brainstorming with Mind Mapping

Based on the three predetermined topics, the campus of Kuang Ming, the historic kendokan during the Japanese colonial period and Fengjia Night Market, the students also worked in three groups accordingly. I presented them with useful vocab words and expressions as scaffolding for their scripts and helped with the revision to make them more colloquial.
Teaching procedures are stated as follows:
1. Background information.
2. Equipping students with useful English expressions.
3. Brainstorming and organizing ideas with mind mapping.
4. Creating drafts and scripts.
5. Revisions of the scripts.
6. Rehearsal for the presentations.
7. The real performance
8. Feedback and reflection.
Materials and equipment needed in the classroom:
1. PPT slides of useful English expressions.
2. PPT slides of Toshi's introduction
3. A wireless Internet connection and an Android dongle for Mirrorcast
4. A laptop with Skype pre-installed.
5. Students' questions for Toshi during the Q and A session

Toshi and I reflected on whether we achieved the goal or not via Skype immediately when the class was over. Toshi said that he could understand what my students were trying to say most of the time. He thinks their English listening comprehension is  quite good, too. I said it was probably because of his excellent English pronunciation and intonation. Some of my students tried to have a casual conversation with Toshi, making fun of one of the seventh graders. Unfortunately, the inevitable happened again, but I was not caught off guard and managed to stay calm this time. At first, my students were quite shy even though this was the fifth time they spoke in English with foreigners. Then, due to the very unstable WiFi connection in the classroom, we were cut off Skype a few times. In addition, this was the first time I used the dongle for Miracast during the whole Skype session, and it also got disconnected two or three times. The quickest and easiest solution is always to restart the process all over again.

Well, I'm really glad we did it again, creating another opportunity for the students to practice their English in an authentic context like this. They got to learn to introduce their own school, the historic kendokan nearby and, of course, the renowned night market here in Taichung in English. With a few more practices, I am confident that my students will be able to talk about the history, culture, street foods and so on of some tourist attractions of Taichung City.

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