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Misconceptions of Learning English Increasing the efficiency of learning Posted by WE Press on November 16, 2014 It has been three years since Tramel Woodard, founder and CEO of Woodard Education, decided to change the way students learn the English language in Shenzhen. After receiving support from numerous business students, entrepreneurs and the parents of grade school students, Woodard began to build its own curriculum. Woodard states that the curriculum sometimes "goes against cultural ideologies" but meeting the challenge has produced many rewards.

"You have to understand there are certain cultural perceptions about education in China," states Woodard. "Many parents want their children to receive the absolute best education, but are very cautious about using any unproven methods to get results."

In China, much of the public educational system is geared towards passing a series of tests. Because of the pressure to enter higher quality schools, students often have little time for other things such as outside hobbies or interests.

Woodard states this is not the problem. "Test-based curriculums are the most effective for Chinese schools. However, attending a training center which promotes interest in learning requires a different approach."

Woodard suggested that many parents unknowingly weaken the learning process with certain habits and perceptions about learning a foreign language.

"There are a few perceptions many parents and students have when it comes to studying English," said Woodard. "The first perception is that the teacher must speak Chinese. When I first arrived in China, almost no teachers were able to speak Chinese. At that time, students were really able to make efforts in order to understand and respond. Recently, we've noticed more students who feel that making mistakes in front of a foreign teacher is a loss of face. This is contrary to the very nature of learning. In order to improve, not only is it important to make mistakes, but it is equally important to understand why they are mistakes."

According to recent Woodard studies, the perception that grammar is most important is also affecting student performance. "Chinese culture is steeped in order and logic," says Woodard. "Because of this, many Chinese training centers are able to attract parents and students by focusing on grammar. This allows many parents to feel comfortable with the curriculum. Unfortunately, learning grammar outside of school is counter-productive for most students because they have already studied grammar. Many students began to dislike learning English because the training centers have become as monotonous as school. Instead, students should be actively practicing conversation, where they will be challenged with not only learning how to use their already gained knowledge, but also with adapting to the speaking style of the instructor as well."

Woodard studies reveal more training centers are using the "multiple teacher" method in order to attract more clients. "This is another tactic used by training centers in order to sign more contracts," noted Woodard. "If you are a business person who has already traveled abroad with good English, I would highly recommend this approach. However, if you are a student of any age who has a basic conversation level, learning from more than one teacher can be damaging to your success."

Woodard also strongly advocated beginning to intermediate students having only one teacher. "It is crucial that beginning students who are learning English in a training center have one instructor. Students should have conversations and lean towards interests and hobbies; however, this should be practiced with one lesson plan and one teacher in order to build strength in both conversation and comprehension. If this and other perceptions were pointed out to both parents and students, the process of learning English in a training center environment could be much more fruitful and productive."


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