Posted by: Lotus Light | October 26, 2010

Extra-Curricula Activity

Passion, excitement, enthusiasm and energy.  Not many foreign teachers associate these attributes with their classes.  In class, Chinese students are quiet, either listening or trying to add a couple more minutes of sleep to their day.  They answer softly, not wanting to make a mistake.  Very rarely do they call out loud or disagree energetically with another student or the teacher.

These classes are very easy to teach, but sometimes, as a teacher, it is easy to wonder if the students are really benefitting from the class.  It is hard to tell how much they are learning. Much of this behaviour comes from the way they have previously been taught.  The teacher knows all, their job is to be able to write the answers the teacher and their textbooks give them at exam time.  The relationship between teacher is student is strange to foreign teachers, used to classes who have some outgoing, demanding, argumentative, engaged, involved students.

But outside class – wow, what a difference!  Students are actively engaged in their world.  They take part in many activities, write for their school newspaper, volunteer in the Students Union, play sports, start skating and dancing groups … and take up debating.

Debaters LOVE arguing!  They become involved in looking at world, social, environmental and economic issues.  They research in their  spare time, they enjoy good discussion, they are a joy to be with.  Passion, engagement, discussion, enthusiasm, excitement and energy are seen in every debate, every debate training.

Many foreign teachers do not want to spend their spare time with students, they have other interests and activities.  I too enjoy my time away from class, out taking photographs, travelling, attending art exhibitions or concerts, dancing in nightclubs and meeting mates for dinner.  BUT… spending one or two afternoons a week training the debate club has given me a fantastic insight into  the hidden lives of students, the energy they bring to things they enjoy.

Sadly, I can only make debate a small part of my teaching time, but even with that small part, I can see changes in my students.  They are more willing to speak, they ask more questions.  For me, this involvement in extra-curricula activities has seemed to give me a different role in the minds of some of the students.  They know I am willing to be part of their activities, not just someone wanting them to jump through more hoops,and not just another exam-preparation process.



  1. Deb, i need to get a better camera, i am thinking of that, though now, in total i have had 3 cameras already…

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