“We’re actually practicing the methods that are being taught.“
In the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program Ran Zhao has learned to expect the unexpected. Such is the world of the highly participatory Extension classroom, where students learn practical methodology and get to create their own lesson plans.
“It’s totally different than China,” Zhao says, comparing her homeland’s more formal, lecture-based classroom style to the contrasting methodologies she’s experienced here. As a result, she’s become fascinated with the way people learn.
“In China we practice writing and listening to the teacher, but here, we’re actually practicing the methods that are being taught. Basically, one by one, they make you speak and use the language. We have to use what we learn to create something to make it our own.”
These are the methods that she hopes to bring home next year when she has completed her 27-unit TESOL certificate training.
It’s a big workload, but she benefits from her classmates’ experience as well. Most of them are local middle and high school teachers and tutors. She has visited their classrooms as well. As an intern, she has begun to prepare lesson plans and assist with teaching.
Zhao is a native of Xi’an, a 7 billion-person historic city in central China known for its thousands of life-size, hand-molded figures buried with China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. She describes her master’s degree in education from Xi’an Technological University as encompassing culture, philosophy, politics and education. She hopes to return home with her new teaching styles.
Maybe the biggest gift has been realizing that she is accomplishing what she set out to do.
“I can really do these new things,” she says. “Knowing that I can do something like this makes me really happy.”
For more information about the UCSC Extension TESOL program, click here.