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Meet Yaodong

Thanks a lot, my webheads friends! I will make every possible use of online resources in my teaching and in helping my students to become ICT-conscious in their learning of English as a foreign language(EFL). I look forward to meeting more webheads online. Yaodong (Don)

Yaodong is a teacher in Liuzhou, China. We met him at Tapped In where he looks like this:

Yaodong features in an article that Vance has written for TESL-EJ (Electric Online Journal), Dec 2002

Yaodong has sent me an interesting site made by a new teacher at the technical university where they both work. There are lots of interesting pictures from around Liuzhou:

On Feb 20, Yaodong sent this good news:


Today I found what I need for joining the upcoming TCC conference 2003 as a student. I hope i am not late for registration.

Starting from this year, my online teaching has turned over a new page since our college has finally arranged for me to have a computer lab with 60 computers hooked up to the Internet, with broadband access. I began my first real online, f2f session of EFL lecture this Tuesday and the course will last till June. To begin with, I introduced to my students in the second year of their college study the usefulness of email exchanges between EFL students and students who are native speakers. And they seemed excited at the thought they would write to someone in a country that they had never dreamed about,which may lead to penpal exchanges. Later on,I will show them how to use Yahoo/MSN messengers or paltalk for real-time communications or even try netmeetinng. To those advanced students, MOOring such as Tappedin,SchMOOze,Du MOO, will be a possibility in the near future.

Vance, my work online has been supported from friends/colleague worldwide,especially from you. I really appreciate your kindness and friendship.

Thank you so very much.

Hello, there! Fancy meeting you online today. I am Chen Yaodong from China (or Yaodong Chen as my western friends call me, or simply, Don ). Currently I am a teacher of English in an Engineering College in Liuzhou, P. R. China. Liuzhou is south of Guilin,which you might know something about.

To know something about the city where I work and live, log on to

I got involved in online teaching/learning English in 1999 when I was a visitor in Nijmegen University, Holland, where I spent much of my time MOOing. At present, I have students who are both English majors and non-English majors, most of whom are eager to exchange emails with students from other countries in order to improve their English.

Contact me if your students are interested in Chinese culture. My ICQ number is 95360328 and my Yahoo ID is jjcyd.

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to meeting you online. My students wish to meet students of your country. ^o^

You can see pictures of Yaodong and his students here.

I'll move this to a separate page soon, but for now ...

This is what I wrote about TEFL in China. To understand my students better, it is better to get to get the TEFL situation in the Chinese context.


The Problems of English Teaching/Learning in China

It is not rare to hear teachers complain: "I can only teach English for the sake of teaching. If I am bombarded with more explanations on language and cultural differences, I may be at a loss."

By Yaodong, a BeBeyond Member June 1, 2001

Reading "Sorry, My Poor English" by Simple, I coud not help recalling my two friends who I met in Holland in 1999. They both were postdocs and were working in Holland. Their spoken English was poor and they were, therefore, often in trouble. One of them lost his job because of his inability of communication. His boss had grown tired of having to write down everything he said. My friend then told me: "You are a teacher. It is your job to help your students with their spoken English. How I wish my teachers had done a better job when I was a student!" The embarrassment of my friend made me think a lot.

Traditionally, Chinese students tend to consider their teachers the main source of learning, which, to a great extent, results from the philosophical foundation for education in China laid by Confucius, one of the greatest thinkers in ancient China. Even today, no one can deny his unparalleled contribution to Chinese education. Many of his wise sayings and maxims still govern the behaviour of learners in China. Take TEFL (Teaching English as Foreign Language) for example, students are still accustomed to speech dominated education by a teacher-centred, book-centred, grammar-translation method and an emphasis on rote memory. There is little student initiative and, if any at all, little student-student interaction.

Teachers who are keen on spoonfeeding their students generally receive higher appreciation than teachers who are not. Any attempt from a teacher for simulated interactions such as games, roleplays, talk-based communicative activities, i.e., pair/group/team work, risks resistance or even resentment from the students. The students tend to associate games and communicative activities in class with entertainment and, exclusively and accordingly, are skeptical of the use of games as learning tools. To make things worse, there are students who may go so far as to distinguish "good teachers" from "bad ones" solely by how many pages they can cover in their notebooks. Teachers who advocate communicative approach to teaching English are likely, though unfairly, to be considered lazy or irresponsible by some students.

On the other hand, a fairly large number of Chinese teachers of English play a crucial part in the current situation of TEFL. Although China has been on the way of opening to the outside world and many foreign experts in English teaching are increasingly available, many of these newly-arrived teachers are engaged in training Chinese foreign language teachers at the tertiary level of Chinese technology specialists. The bulk of the English teaching is still conducted by Chinese teachers, mostly trained in a traditional way, the majority of whom have never been outside of China or talked to a native speaker. Owing to a lack of English proficiency themselves, some Chinese teachers find it a painful step to adjust to different teaching techniques and, therefore, are usually unprepared when difficulties crop up in the course of teaching. Consequently, they often give up and resort to using outdated methods in the work. Some Chinese teachers are concerned about being unable to answer spontaneously questions about English, sociolinguistics, or culture as they arise from interactions in the classroom. It is not rare to hear teachers complain: "I can only teach English for the sake of teaching. If I am bombarded with more explanations on language and cultural differences, I may be at a loss."

Last but not the least, the current CET-4/6 (College English Test Band 4/6), started some ten years ago, has led students to a false belief that written English is more important than spoken English. As a result, it is not unusual to see a holder of band 4/6 certificate very weak in spoken English, so much so that he/she often fails to speak a complete sentence. The two examples given at the beginning provide food for thoughts, don't they?

Yaodong reports this interesting online experience just after his birthday, 2002

Hello,my Webheads friends,

Many thanks for the wishes! It is the first time for me to get birthday blessings from an international point of view. Long live the Internet! Long live our Webhead community!

Guess what I did to celebrate my birthday? I got up at 4 a.m. today , well prepared for the 3rd Heinle annual conference on "Teaching at Today's Multilevel Classroom" since I believed I had made sure of the time of the conference. I logged on at 4:05, expecting to meet the four speakers from the USA, all of whom are experts in language teaching. It was not until 40 minutes later that I realized my possible mistake of time conversion. I reread the message from Heinle which came to me before my bedtime last night. I found the time expression "at 3 pm on Feb. 6 (Eastern time)". As I had made sure that Beijing time is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Time, USA, I began to laugh at myself for being so silly---getting up 24 hours earlier than expected for an exciting experiment!

Before I went back to bed at 6 a.m., I logged to and was happy to find the "world clock" there. Then I found Dan and BJ on Yahoo messenger, Susan from Canada on MSN messenger and later Torrey, an American boy of 12 who came to Liuzhou with his parents to study the Chinese language, popped up on yahoo messenger ( We both live on the same campus , by the way). They all assured me that I wouldn't miss the conference at due time.

Dan praised me as dedicated to online technology and I now tend to think that I well deserve that compliment. ^O^

By the way, I ran into a teacher from UK while waiting for the conference when I picked him at random from He has promised to meet me again and hopefully my students will meet his online. I seldom meet UK teachers online. I wish I would meet more. Will any of you help?

My special thanks for Vance and Dan for their kindness on my birthday. Bye for now.


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Last updated: February6, 2004