Tips for Teaching Chinese Students

Don Bacon, Professor in the Department of Marketing, shares some of his ideas and thoughts about teaching Chinese students.

Get to know the country. I have mounted a large (3 x 4′) map of China on the wall in my office. Whenever a Chinese students visit me in my office, I ask them where they are from in China, and if I need help with the location, I ask them to point it out on the map. I then ask them a little about their hometown. I feel this helps me to connect better with the students and shows a genuine interest in them as individuals.

Cold call discussion questions but make preparation clear. My masters students are often assigned academic readings that we later discuss in class. I give students a list of discussion questions in advance for each article. Then, in class, I randomly call on students and ask them to address specific discussion questions. Having the questions in advance allows non-native speakers of English to prepare answers and get into the conversation somewhat. The discussion questions also help me to focus on what I believe are key learnings in the articles.

Use student information cards. I ask all students to fill out a 3 x 5 card containing contact information and a little background on themselves. I then tape on their pictures which I download from Web Central. This deck is handy to shuffle through to get to know student names. I also use this deck, shuffled, to randomly draw on names of students to call on in class.

Use a seating chart to learn names. For each of my classes, I use PowerPoint to make a drawing of the layout of the room, including chairs and tables. I then bring a printed copy of this graphic to each class, and ask students to sign their names over the chair that they are sitting in. The sign-in is a handy device for recording participation scores and it helps immensely to learn student names. (It is common for me to have classes with 30 or more students and half of them may be Chinese.)

Individually hand back assignments to learn names. When returning assignments, I sort the assignments by the order students typically sit in as shown on my seating charts. Then, I can quickly hand back the assignments to each student. In this process, I get one more repetition of learning the students’ names.

Mix activity groups. When conducting group activities in class, I have had some success with requiring that each group contain at least one Chinese student and one American student. Without this requirement, students may not mix as much as I would like them too. This diversity requirement may seem a little awkward, but everyone seems to understand the benefits of mixing with other and the (otherwise) social awkwardness of approaching strangers.

Add diversity to exercise materials. In any exercises and written examples that I may use in class, I try to mix in examples with Chinese names and Chinese settings. For example, instead of “Suppose Jane started a business with a bank loan of $20,000…”, I start with “Suppose Yun started a business with money she borrowed from her father…”

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