I've just finished my first semester as a teacher of writing for an English for Academic Purposes program in China. As part of a group of 5 teachers here, our goals are to prepare students in China for transitioning to an American university after one year of study. Like many ESL teachers, I experienced groups of students in my classes whose English abilities cover a wide range of levels. Knowing that they need so much improvement before the enter the U.S. university system this fall, I feel almost an overwhelming sense of urgency.
Because China has such a long break between the fall and spring semesters, I have close to two weeks to travel and prepare for the courses I will be teaching next semester. In light of the many problems I witnessed with student's grammar and writing, I've asked my dean to allow me to teach a special course that will focus mostly on grammar for speaking and writing purposes. Having never taught such a course before, I've been busy purchasing textbooks and researching.
I'm considering using Azar's most recent textbook, which is geared toward an advance level of students. But I think that there are certain number of students who I'll be teaching who need some more familiarization with more intermediate level activities and grammar points (I have some students who still struggle when composing a simple sentence, while others are writing compound-complex sentences with ease). Does anyone have any recommendations?? I'd also like to have a grammar text that does help prepare them for academic related tasks/topics. Hopefully I'm not expecting too much out of a text.
Another aspect of the grammar class I'm considering is to have it connect to the academic writing class that I'm also teaching. My thoughts are that I can have students work on error correction of their essays in the grammar class. I tried to start implementing this during my introductory writing course this semester,but didn't have the time to fit into my course schedule. Have other teachers worked with grammar courses where they linked a writing or speaking class? If so, I wonder if these proved successful.
Another goal I have for this class is trying to create a fun and more interactive class environment. I'm still trying to break these students out of the mold of a teacher-centered environment, which they've gotten used to through their Chinese education experiences. I'm hesitant to use games sometimes, but it seems that they can help get the class more interactive than many of the traditional workbook exercises can.