CLICK to download Easter freebies zipped file.
CLICK to download Easter freebies zipped file.
Culture Shock (noun): the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.
Going into online teaching, it never even crossed my mind that I’d experience any kind of culture shock. For one, I’d already spent a year in South Korea so I thought I had a good idea of East Asian culture and secondly, we don’t even have to leave our homes. How can we experience any kind of culture shock when we don’t have to leave the country? While it’s definitely not as extreme as moving to a completely unfamiliar country there are still some cultural differences I wish I’d known about!
The coveted club of the online teaching world. The first time your student takes you on a journey to their bathroom, pulls down their trousers and proceeds to do their business, all while continuing their conversation with you, can be quite shocking! They aren’t trying to be rude or offend you though, it just isn’t a big deal over there. It doesn’t seem to be as popular anymore but some children still wear ‘split pants’. These are pants with a hole in the bum so kids can just squat and drop wherever they may be! (Google ‘China split plants’ if you don’t believe me!)
The first time a granddad in nothing but his underpants strolled across the screen I was quite take aback, but it turns out it’s a pretty common occurrence! It is not unusual for homes in China to have no air conditioning or heating so when temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius (105 F) in summer and drop below freezing in winter, it shouldn’t really be surprising people want to strip off when they get home. Conversely, in winter you’ll probably see students wrapped up in their winter coats during lessons!
This was probably the hardest difference for me to deal with. To most of us in the West, the way some Chinese parents chose to discipline their children can be hard to handle. I’ll never forget the first time my sweet little seven year old got swiped around the back of the head for laughing too hard. I try to show parents and students that it’s ok to make mistakes and have fun in class. I find once parents realise this they step back a little bit, both in terms of discipline and feeding answers to their kids.
Communication can be tricky at times! There’s the obvious language barrier but also differences in the way things are said. Directness can often be mistaken for rudeness. A common example is, when contacting IT for help they’ll often respond with ‘What do you want?’ or ‘What is your problem?’ which could come across as pretty rude, but really they are just asking what you would like help with. I’ve found the key to successful communication with IT and CS is:
In the most basic terms ‘saving face’ means to avoid being disgraced or humiliated. This goes some way to explain why you often hear parents whispering answers to their children, or helping them in tests they’re trying to save face. Saving face means it can often be difficult for people to admit their mistakes. Admitting to a mistake would involve ‘losing face’. It’s important to consider this when speaking to parents, students and DaDa employees. Correct student (and parent) mistakes carefully, speak politely to employees and avoid making direct accusations. The whole concept of ‘face’ is quite a tricky one for me and it’s definitely worthy of a post of its own, so if you want to know more I recommend checking out this article on Trip Savvy
These kids are worked HARD! My student told me a ‘joke’ the other day:
“Children in England get 2 pieces of homework a night, they go home and cry “I have so much homework today”. Children in Japan get 5 pieces of homework a night, they go home and complain “I have so much homework today”. Children in China get 10 pieces of homework a night, they go home and shout with joy “I have so little homework today”. “
The sad thing is this is so true! I ask my students about their day every lesson, and they always say how much homework and extra classes they have. Even their weekends are full with 3-4 extra curricular lessons a day. I ask ‘did you get to relax or read or watch TV today?’ and the answer is almost always no! So bear this in mind when your student comes to class sleepy or in a bad mood, or if they didn’t do the homework you set them. These kids are under so much pressure, and before you judge the parents, it’s worth giving this article a read. There is so much competition in the academic world and most parents just want to give their children a fighting chance to succeed!
Your students will take you to all kinds of weird and wonderful places with them! If your student pops up in an unusual location, don’t panic, just do what you can. I’ve taught students in restaurants, at an amusement park, on a bus, in an underwear store, in a car, in a treehouse in Thailand, in shopping centres and my personal favourite, on the back of a motorcycle! Obviously you can’t teach the courseware in some of these scenarios, instead, use their surroundings and get them to talk about where they are, what they can see, who they’re with and what they’re doing! Sometimes these lessons can turn out the most fun!
Have I missed anything? I’d love to hear more about the cultural differences you’ve experienced while teaching online, or abroad! Leave a comment below 😀
Think you can handle these differences and want to start teaching? I’m happy to help you through the process! If you use my link (it’s free) I can mentor you through the application process and in those first few weeks of teaching so you don’t have to go through the culture shock alone!
The demo plays a crucial part in the application process. Not only does it determine whether you get the job, it also plays a part in the pay that you’ll be offered. So it’s worth taking a little time to prepare!
If you’d like more tips watch my video about the demo lesson.
If you’re not feeling too confident navigating your way around the classroom, this guided tour of the classroom should help!: https://youtu.be/nLXpl4qjI2Q
If you think you’re ready to take the plunge and apply for DaDa I’d love it if you used my link! It’s free for you and in return I can help you throughout the process! If you have any questions head over to my contact page and send me a message!
APPLY HERE: http://bit.ly/theonlineenglishclassroom
There are so many great apps for kids out there and they can be a really fun addition to the classroom. Unfortunately when you hold your phone up to the screen you don’t always get the clearest picture. I finally figured out how to link my iPhone to my computer and share through Manycam. I can’t wait to try this in the classroom!
If you’d like to see how to share apps through Manycam check out this video:
Now for my favourite apps!
I am most definitely one of the worst singers in the entire world. I have had children cover their ears when I start to sing and once, in a music lesson during teacher training, things were going so badly my mentor stopped the lesson early and gave the kids extra playtime (recess if you’re in the US). BUT this doesn’t stop me from having a good sing along in class. Songs are a great way to mix things up with younger students. They can also help students remember new language, improve their pronunciation and re-energise them if they’re starting to flag!
Here are my favourite songs to use online. Some people use Manycam or show the videos on their phone. Personally I just sing, this makes it easier to go slowly and adapt the lyrics if necessary. Apart from LinLin, who covers her ears when I start to sing, most students respond well to this!
When teachers first join DaDa it can be a really steep learning curve. Especially because DaDa often schedule classes at the last minute, with very little time to prepare. Don’t worry, as you start to fill up with regular students your schedule becomes a lot more predictable!
Here’s a quick video of the different types of classes that might pop up on your schedule. Hopefully this will give you some kind of idea what to expect!
Do you understand?
This is probably the most used (and least useful) question asked in the EFL classroom. However most of us, myself included, are guilty of using it. Ask any student ‘Do you understand?’ and you’re most likely going to get a yes and a nod of the head in response. Delve a little deeper and you’ll probably find in reality they have no idea what you’re talking about! This is where ICQs and CCQs come in.
ICQ stand for Instruction Checking Question and is pretty self explanatory. ICQs are questions we ask to check the students understand our instructions. While I think these are most important for group teaching (it’s a lot more difficult to correct misunderstandings after you’ve sent 15-30 students off to do their thing only to realise they didn’t understand your instructions) it’s always best to check the student knows exactly what they should be doing before they start a task!
CCQ stands for Concept Checking Question. CCQs are questions we ask to check the student understands the language we are studying in class.
Here are a few key things to consider when asking CCQs:
Here is an example:
I visited my aunt in Australia last year.
CCQ 1 – Am I in Australia now? No
CCQ2 – Was I in Australia in the past? Yes
CCQ3 – Who did I meet in Australia? Your aunt
CCQ4 – Did I see a kangaroo? We don’t know
I hope you found this post useful and if you prefer to learn about ICQs and CCQs in video form, you can watch my video here:
At first I was worried about making the transition from classroom to online teaching, now I can’t imagine doing anything else! There are lots of perks (and a couple of pitfalls) of online teaching.
If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and teaching online you should definitely join our Facebook group ‘Travel and Teach Online FAQ‘. Myself and another teacher Kat (who also happens to have an awesome blog you can check out by clicking here) post lots of advice, tips and support for new and potential teachers.
And if you’re ready to apply today I’d really appreciate it if you used my referral link. It’s free for you and really helps me out!