Three years ago I came up with a great idea for the final exam in Speaking class: each student has to teach 20 minutes of class. I did it once, three years ago, and haven’t had the opportunity to do it again…until this semester.

With thirty students in a class this takes at least 5 weeks, sometimes more. I’m not gonna lie, it’s friggin awesome for me because for 1/3 of the semester I don’t need to prepare, or teach class.

But it’s friggin awesome for the class as well, because with the students in the drivers seat they have so much more fun. I really stressed that they should teach class specifically to their classmates and their classmates interest and I have to say, they have gotten a lot more participation out of each other than I ever expected. They also came up with some ideas I’m totes stealing in future years.

So what did they do this time? Well, here’s some pictures.

In the first week, one class did a "recycled materials" fashion show. They brought in paper, newspaper, garbage bags etc and the students were given time to create clothes and have a catwalk.

In the first week, one class did a “recycled materials” fashion show. They brought in paper, newspaper, garbage bags etc and the students were given time to create clothes and have a catwalk.

teaching English in China, Xiamen

I was a student, and this boy was my group. We dressed him up in newspaper undies. I made the hat.

After the catwalk, they choose the "best dressed" and she got to give a speech, thanking everyone. Needless to say, this class went over incredibly well.

After the catwalk, they choose the “best dressed” and she got to give a speech, thanking everyone. Needless to say, this class went over incredibly well.

The student teachers were required to ask questions of their classmates and some even made little tests. Usually students are shy about raising their hands and answering, but when their classmates are the teachers they wouldn't shut up! (It helped that often they would win a prize for answering a test first.)

The student teachers were required to ask questions of their classmates and some even made little tests. Usually students are shy about raising their hands and answering, but when their classmates are the teachers they wouldn’t shut up! (It helped that often they would win a prize for answering a question. The things the students would do for a little fifty cent snack was amazing.)

 

There was dancing on a few occasions.

There was dancing on a few occasions.

In one class they talked about the Chinese tradition of paper cutting and then we all got to make "double happiness" a common wedding papercut. Even I managed to do a good job.

In one class they talked about the Chinese tradition of paper cutting and then we all got to make “double happiness” a common wedding papercut. Even I managed to do a good job.

 

In one class a student taught everyone about puppets n history and culture. Then we all got our own little puppet of popular cartoon characters and had to do make up a little play.

In one class a student taught everyone about puppets n history and culture. Then we all got our own little puppet of popular cartoon characters and had to do a little play.

One group chose the topic of "auctions." First they showed a scene from a movie about an auction, then talked about some famous, and outlandish items auctioned off (Elvis Presley's underwear anyone?) Then they prepared auction items and gave groups money and an auction paddle. Each group of students had to "sell" an item at auction. The items were funny, a dirty sock, and empty bottle, a classmate, and the seller had to make an outlandish story so other groups would bid on it. Then all the money raised was donated to the "Teacher Becky" fund. Pity it was just play money.

One group chose the topic of “auctions.” First they showed a scene from a movie about an auction, then talked about some famous, and outlandish items auctioned off (Elvis Presley’s underwear anyone?) Then they prepared auction items and gave groups money and an auction paddle. Each group of students had to “sell” an item at auction. The items were funny, a dirty sock, and empty bottle, a classmate, and the seller had to make an outlandish story so other groups would bid on it. Then all the money raised was donated to the “Teacher Becky” fund. Pity it was just play money.

 

This boy had to auction himself off. Not only was he a boy who could cook and clean but he was a prince from the famous city of Atlantis.

This boy had to auction himself off. Not only was he a boy who could cook and clean but he was a “prince from the famous city of Atlantis.” He sold for about $40,000. 

During International Children's Day, several groups celebrated children discusssing childhood toys, games, and memories. Then we played some childhood games. (They play musical chairs in China too.)

During International Children’s Day, several groups celebrated children discussing childhood toys, games, and memories. Then we played some childhood games. (They play musical chairs in China too.)

The student teachers got their classmates to be really active, and talking a lot. In one class the teachers talked about emoijis. Then gave the class to make their own which they had to discuss with everyone.

The student teachers got their classmates to be really active, and talking a lot. In one class the teachers talked about emoijis. Then gave the class to make their own which they had to discuss with everyone.

We had another fashion show made from everyday materials. (Different class, but just as fun.)

We had another fashion show made from everyday materials. (Different class, but just as fun.)

 

The students are required to send me a teaching plan several days before which I approve or change. The classes are mostly girls with only 1-4 boys. So when I got a lesson plan from a boy and his topic was makeup, I was a little surprised. Not only did he have a good teaching portion, he let his classmates put makeup on him, which they LOVED. Then he ended it by talking about how all girls are beautiful without makeup. It was a great lesson.

The students are required to send me a teaching plan several days before which I approve or change. The classes are mostly girls with only 1-4 boys. So when I got a lesson plan from a boy and his topic was makeup, I was a little surprised. Not only did he have a good teaching portion, he let his classmates put makeup on him, which they LOVED. Then he ended it by talking about how all girls are beautiful without makeup. It was a great lesson.

One girl decided to teach "life hacks" such as how to tie a cute bow in a dress, or how to fold a shirt with only one movement. She brought material for everyone to try. It took me a few tries but I got it eventually!

One girl decided to teach “life hacks” such as how to tie a cute bow in a dress, or how to fold a shirt with only one movement. She brought material for everyone to try. It took me a few tries but I got it eventually.

This was a fun "spinny" game until I was worried someone was gonna kill themselves (don't worry, she was caught.)

This was a fun “spinny” game until I was worried someone was gonna kill themselves (don’t worry, she was caught. She had actually only turned around 3 times, but seemed to be especially dizzy. Everyone else handled it okay.)

No one would ever accuse me of being a strict teacher. But to me, I see successful teaching as getting the students to use, and enjoy using, the language. I want them to use it while speaking to each other, and not just me. And this final exam fit the bill. It got them to speak a lot, got each other speaking, and even better we all had a great time. That’s a win-win for me even if we never opened a textbook.

teaching english in China

P.S. It also means the semester is over! Summer holiday has arrived! Woot!


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