A web site for the developing language teacher

The Common Sense Approach
How One Teacher Organized A Speaking Course
For 200 Chinese Graduate Students
Steve Schackne
- 5

Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C

Appendix A (Topics Selected, 2002-2003)

Academic Corruption, America in China's Eyes, AIDS

Buying a Car in China, Body Building

Chinese Tea, Current Events, Cloning, Chinese and Western Lifestyle, Chinese Medicine, Campus Violence, Cultural Differences, Campus Life, Chinese in America, Chinese TV

DINKS(Double Income No Kids), Drinking, Dreams for the Future, Differences Between North and South China, Divorce, Domestic Violence

Environment, Educational Reform, English Songs

Food, Family, Friends, Female Beauty vs. Brains, Foreigners' Lives in China, Fashion

Government Corruption, Generation Gap, Government Elections, Global Warming

How to Write an Academic Paper, Honesty, Hobbies, Hometowns, High Tuition Costs, History, How to Relieve Stress, Health and Diet

Iraq War, Internet, Interesting Books

Juvenile Delinquency, Job Hunting

Love and Marriage, Love on Campus

Marine Resources, Movies, Music, Middle East, Media Freedom

Natural Resources, NBA(National Basketball Association)

Overpopulation, Over-enrollment of Graduate Students in China

Ph.D Lifestyle, Pollution, Privacy, Pop Music, Part-time Jobs for Students, Psychological Problems, Pets

Religion, Rich and Poor

Sustainable Development in Western China, Smoking, Space Exploration, Study vs. Work, Shopping, Social Skills, Sex Discrimination, SARS(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), Studying Abroad, Sports, Sino-U.S. Relations

Teachers and Students, Taiwan, Travel, TOEFL(Test of English as a Foreign Language), Terrorism, Transportation Problems in China



War and Peace, World Cup(Football), Weekends, World Wonders

Appendix B (Role Plays)

4 people: 2m/f, 1m, 1f

You are a graduate student who has been offered a job with a Chinese company. To take this job you would have to drop out of school. Your parents disagree; they want you to stay in school, graduate, and then join a multinational firm or go abroad for study. Your best friend agrees with you. You and your best friend have to convince your parents to accept your point of view.

3 people: 2f, 1m

You have decided to marry a boy from another province, who you knew from university. He is considered a genius in the computer field, but so far has no job prospects. You love him and feel he will be successful in his career and a good husband. Your parents disagree. They want you to marry a government administrator from your home province. You know this man and like him. You know that he has a secure position, but you don't feel you would be happy marrying him. Persuade your parents that your choice will be the best.

2 people: 1m, 1f

You want an LOA (leave of absence) from your job to attend a 2-week long course in Hong Kong called "E-Marketing in Asia for the 21st Century." You are willing to pay your own tuition, and you have a place in Hong Kong to stay. However, your boss, Marketing Director for Xia Tech Company , doesn't want to release you for 2 weeks; he says he needs you on the job. You have to convince him that you can make up the work and that the course will make you a better marketing employee, and a more valuable team member of Xia Tech Company.

2 people: 2m

Your best friend's girlfriend has "made a pass" at you. You are not interested in her, but you feel you have to tell your best friend that his girlfriend is not to be trusted. You are undecided about telling your friend that the girl tried to seduce you because you think that might either hurt him or anger him, and maybe make him feel like you are trying to "steal" the girl. How do you protect your friend without ruining the friendship?

2 people: 2f

Your best friend's boyfriend has "made a pass" at you. You are not interested in him, but you feel you have to tell your best friend that her boyfriend is not to be trusted. You are undecided about telling your friend that the boy tried to seduce you because you think that might either hurt her or anger her, and maybe make her feel like you are trying to "steal" the boy. How do you protect your friend without ruining the friendship?

2 people: 1m, 1f

You have to miss 2 weeks of school to take care of your sick mother. You have to convince your (night school) teacher that this is a real family obligation you have to take care of. The problem is you are only an average student, and the teacher doesn't trust you because last time you missed class, the teacher discovered you were at a music pub with your friend. How do you deal with this situation?

5 people: 5 m/f

You want to attend Cambridge University in England to pursue graduate studies. Only the best Chinese students in all of China make it to Cambridge, so you know that your competition is going to be stiff. Cambridge has four professors who will interview you and decide on your application. This interview is very important, so you must show poise, intelligence, and confidence.

Appendix C (Sample Class Module)

Topic: Divorce

Grouping: 5 groups x 5 students per group (50 minutes)

1. Warmup—5 minutes
Ask simple yes/no questions to focus student attention and get them used to the class topic.

a) Do you think divorce is on the increase in China?

b) Do you feel, in an unhappy marriage, divorce is sometimes justified?

[Listing—10 minutes] —In groups

  • List all the causes of divorce you can think of
  • List all the effects divorce has on society
  • Alternate(if answer to Ia was yes)—List all reasons why divorce is increasing in China

2. Direct Teaching—10 minutes
Whole class
Demonstrate and model cause/effect teaching elements:

  • so
  • therefore
  • consequently
  • as a result
  • since
  • hence
  • because
  • due to
  • leads to
  • results in
  • causes

How they are used: formal-informal; written-oral

3. Consensus15 minutes
In groups

  • Agree on the two major causes of divorce in China

  • Agree on the two major effects divorce has on society

  • Alternate(if answer to IA was yes)—Agree on the two major reasons divorce is increasing in China

4. Presentation—10 minutes
In groups

Present results from group work in stage IV; attempt to utilize caue/effect teaching elements in stage III.

5. Expansion —Optional class expansion
personal values—to be discussed in next class

  • Would you seek a divorce if you had an unhappy marriage?

  • Would children make a difference?

  • What should be done to reduce high divorce rates?

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