Teaching in China from Toronto

So I’ve been teaching students in China via Skype for a little while now and I have to say it is quite a learning experience for me.

Lesson planning is not that different from what I might do in a regular class: I find something interesting for them to read, compose some conversation questions, maybe a bit of vocabulary…nothing earth shattering, except that I do it all on PowerPoint slides instead of on photocopied paper. They see these slides through some screen-sharing / meeting software, which also allows me to draw on the screen and them to draw on my screen too, if I turn on that option.

One advantage over the classroom teaching I’m used to is that we have access to the entire internet: we play games online, I can instantly find pictures if they have vocabulary questions, this sort of thing. Of course this sort of thing can be done in a regular classroom with a laptop and projector, but few of the places I’ve worked have had the budget for that sort of technology.

I have to say though, that I really miss the physicality of a regular classroom. I’m a great believer in a connection between the body and the mind and numerous times I’ve found that the direction of a class can be dramatically improved just by inserting an activity that gets people standing up for a few minutes.