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June 2019 - Year 21 - Issue 3

ISSN 1755-9715

An Effectual Oral English Course Formula for Chinese University and College Oral English Classes That Foreign Experts Can Use on a Regular Basis

Clair Lasater has lectured as professor, in China, at Hainan University, Ling Ling University, the Hunan University of Science and Engineering, Shunde Polytechnic, and Maoming University.  Dr. Lasater taught Oral English, as well at Guangdong Peizheng College, and Shandong Jiaotong University. He has published in the Guardian, China Daily, The Telegraph, The Times of India, Veritas, Omniglot, and authored ten Amazon paperback and digital books. Email:



It is advisable to plan each week’s Oral English class by using a formula.  Please see my China University Teaching Methods at . Because the entire second hour is taken up by the students’ short speeches, (or else!), the foreign expert need lecture only fifty or fifty-five minutes, (the first hour).  Chinese university and college meet-ups run two sessions back-to-back.


The components

Components for this potent oral English course formula, follow.  There is no way to include all of the devices catalogued below, in the fifty-five minutes allowed.  The professor can use each week, any of, and as many of, these tools listed.  A successful mix can include:

1.  A quite popular native English, English-language music track, played twice. The instructor, lecturer, or professor must provide printed lyrics to each student. Download these song poetries, free from the internet.  (The original tracks, themselves, are also available gratis, on the web.  Print only one copy, or download onto a memory stick.  Run off at a local copy shop, as many copies as you will need for the week.  No school will do this for you in the office.  (The second time an instructor tries to use the office copier, he or she will be told that it is out of order.  It will continue to be “out of order” the remainder of the school year.)  Therefore, the teacher pays out a small amount of money each coming week, at a local copy shop.  It’s worth it, however, to render your classes exceptional, through the use of such handouts.

2.  A list of ten to fifteen model sentences, written the way these sentences would be spoken – word choice, word order -- in the teacher’s own country, or, in general, in the Western, English-speaking lands.  The subject of the model sentences reflects the instructor’s topic, for each week.  For instance, if the teacher’s topic for a week is “Sailing,” the ten model sentences might read:

  1. A chart table is used for reading maps.
  2. Don’t hit that island!
  3. Was that a fish?
  4. Let’s head back in, at three (o’clock).
  5. Almost no snakes in this lake!


So that the instructor does not run out of time, he or she might read aloud, only the first ten.  (There are surely other things to teach, during the mere fifty-five minutes allotted.)  The other model sentences can be practiced aloud, ala Li Yang, on campus, by each student, during the coming week.

3.  A character-building secular proverb.  For example.  “Breed up a crow, and he will tear out your eyes.”  (This aphorism quite successfully parallels the Holy Bible (KJV) Proverb, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it.” Understandably, Western foreign experts are not permitted to teach Bible.)  Benjamin Franklin truisms also work.  “Examples: “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” “Plough deep while sluggards sleep.”

4.  Two to four idioms.  Examples: “They’re ‘spinning their wheels!’”  “She’s no ball of fire.”   Each exemplification needs to be explained, of course.  This takes class time, so two to four idioms provided and explained is not too few a number. Chinese English-language majors truly appreciate this part of the course, because this is English as it is spoken.

5. “Directions” training.  “How do I get to the main train station,” “Which way is the university campus?”  “Do I turn right here, or left?”  “How many miles is it to Plymouth?”  “Is there a KFC nearby?” “How far is the next filling station?” Etc.  A color poster board, simple, hand drawn map helps with this student rehearsal.  The teacher first marker pen draws a number of city blocks, (This by its nature creates streets.)  Then, the instructor pens in a library, a high school, a McDonald’s, the city college, the police station, Coco’s house, Tina’s house, Min Min’s house, Alan’s house, the concert hall.  Each of these make-believe destinations is labelled in English. 

This map of such-and-such typical Western city is brought to class, and affixed to the board, with tape or magnets.   During class, students are called forward, to explain, in front of their classmates, how to get to Tina’s house from the library.   Or, how to reach the police station from McDonald’s.  This rehearsal continues, scholar by scholar, until enough good is accomplished.   

6.  An Aesop’s fable.   The very best translations I’ve found on the internet, are on the Page by Page Books site.   The moral, at the end of each fable is also character training. Example: “Little friends may prove great friends.“  (From Aesop’s, “The Lion and the Mouse.”)  A further adage example: “Do not trust flatterers.”  (From Aesop’s, “The Fox and the Crow.”)   Yet another maxim illustration: “Little by little does the trick,” (Aesop’s “The Crow and the Pitcher.”)  The teacher can read these, slowly, native accent, and if he or she wishes, next, ask a member of the class to read the fable aloud. 

7.  Fun, madcap, news stories culled from the internet.  Lecturers should read them slowly to the classes.

Here, below, are short descriptions of two such news items, that I downloaded from a now defuct quirkies news service, and used in class:


                    A major university, in England, was offering a one-year M. A. in

                    Robin Hood Studies.

                    A temp Santa Claus, working at upscale Harrods, in London,

                    was dismissed after asking a Chinese family there with offspring, “Shouldn’t

                    you be at Tesco?”                                       


Note.  A teacher should go off any such formula, perhaps one class a semester, to give the scholars a break from the same routine, (which can become a rut, even for the lecturer).  A maximum fun, “blowout” hour of instruction can be utilized, to create this escape from

the normal.  An all recorded music hour, with downloaded lyrics provided on a one-page handout is an example of such a diversion.

And, again, teachers must remember, that the incessant demands, for the Oral English students to talk English, necessitate that the Foreign Experts can use only the first “hour” to lecture.  The second period ought be reserved for students’ “little speeches.”           



Free lyrics and sound downloads ;

(and similar sites.)


M. A. in Robin Hood Studies:  “Robin Hood is scholarly subject” BBC News     

Santa sacked:

“How to Succeed at Teaching P. R. China University Academe -- Without Really Trying,”

Clair Lasater. .


Please check the Methodology and Language for Secondary course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Teaching Advanced Students course at Pilgrims website.

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