One of the most popular parts of the TIP program is the "Morning Motivational" which are thought provoking lessons about life. Because of changing schedules, classes sometimes miss the "Momo", so we tried to incorporate the lesson into our class time. This lesson was a story about sharing a "blue ribbon" with someone to show that they are valued. Of course, we gave each student a blue ribbon. In addition, we had "stars" for those who worked hard and did something out of the ordinary. By the end of the session, each student had a "star" to take home as well as their "Blue ribbon". Hopefully, these will be reminders of the "once in a lifetime" experience they had at TIP.
Meals are actually considered part of class time because the purpose continues to be the same -- to speak in English in a variety of situations. We used somthing called "Conversation starters" to keep the topics more interesting than "What are you eating?" They would contain questions, such as "What do you value most in life?" along with vocabulary words related to values. These questions were especially helpful for our lower level speakers.
One hour each day was devoted to computer lab, where they would listen to native speakers reading passages for them to repeat. The computer program allowed them to compare their voice patterns with the native speaker to help them improve their pronunciation. Each student was given a copy of the program to take home with them and continue practicing.
One of the week-end activities was an old-fashioned school carnival, and here Peter is trying to create a fishing pole for our class game. He tied a couple of branches together with some leaves to make it long enough. Quite impressive, I thought! The class decided to use a different game, so Peter's innovation ended up in the trash heap -- as many do.
Our Chinese students loved games and puzzles. Fortunately, Paul does too, and has a bag full of tricks to use if the regular class activities end sooner than planned. This game started out with the two strings intertwined and the object was to get free without removing the strings from our arms.
If you notice the classroom, it is set up in a "U" shape. The idea is to allow the class to be student centered, not teacher centered, as the Chinese teachers are use to. In addition to helping them improve their English, we are trying to help them learn new teaching methods. The Chinese education system is set for rote memorization so that the student can answer the exam questions critical to their future lives. If they do well on their exams, they can progress to better schools and universities, but if not, they may not be able to go to a university at all. If they don't do well on their exams, they will probably be relegated to a life of manual labor or street vendor.
The Chinese government is beginning to recognize the need to change their education system and is using TIP to change the way teachers approach their own classrooms as well as improve their English.