My observation object is Chinese 201 on the lesson about travel. The 75-minute class was divided into two sections. In the first section, the instructor did a reviewing warm-up activity on the vocabularies about tourism by having the conversation with the students regarding their travel plans in the summer. In the second section, after providing a hand-out of online flight booking page in both English and Chinese, the instructor gave a brief introduction regarding the process of how to book a plane ticket in China and illustrated the difference of the process in China and America. The instructor suggested that after the class, students should be able to learn the basic vocabularies about traveling and have the abilities to book a plane ticket in a Chinese website and plan other activities related to travel.
As a second-year Chinese course, the instructor used the target language for more than fifty percent. The students were able to understand and provide the reaction in the target language as well. However, other than the vocabularies discussed in the class, the students seemed to get confused when the instructor gave some common class expressions such as “please look at this sentence”. Under this condition, when the instructor asked certain students to answer questions or react, the instruction was in English. I suggest the instructor spend more time training the students to understand basic class expressions in Chinese in order to reach the communicative goal, instead of simply listening to English instructions.
The instructor had a control over the classroom through her passionate teaching style. Most students could participate well. However, the instructor seemed to pay more attention to students who volunteered to answer questions. For those students who sat at the back and did not talk, she did not give enough feedback. For example, when students were doing a pair discussion, the instructor ignored one student who had no partner to practice. A good method to solve this issue is to change the seats and require the students to sit randomly. This strategy will also be able to prevent students from getting familiar with each other and indulge in their own conversation which happened once in this class. The instructor should also walk around to listen to students’ talking in order to make them more engaged in the learning task.
When using the real-life material such as a Chinese plane ticket, students acted very engaged in the topic. The instructor also provided some cultural information about traveling in China and most famous places to go. However, the activities she introduced in this class were basically the group or class discussion by simply asking and answering questions. As for the topic of traveling, the instructor could use multi activities such as information gap by giving students different plane tickets and travel plans. Or the instructor and the students could have a role-play about buying the plane ticket in a real-life situation.
When providing feedback to each student, the instructor could implicitly recast to correct their pronunciation mistakes or grammar errors when speaking and gave praise when they completed the tasks. Expect some students who had questions about the lesson but did not dare to ask, most students were on the same pace. The instructor should balance the different level of learning among the students and pay some attention to the students who might feel left behind.
In general, the students in this class completed the interpretive and interpersonal goals successfully, however, there was less input on the presentational objectives. By providing more activities for students to practice by themselves, they will have a better understanding of the objectives and usage of the task in real life which reflects the natural use of language.