How to improve my English? Exploring the successes and challenges of using communicative approach in a Chinese classroom

This action research study was conducted by a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English as a Foreign Language at Gansu Industry Polytechnic College in Tianshui, Gansu, PRC from 2012-2014. The study examines both communicative and noncommunicative (more traditional) classroom activities in order to attempt to determine which types of language learning activities are most effective in a Chinese college classroom taught by a foreign teacher. Based upon the current literature on this topic, the teacher attempted to use a combination approach, to determine if combining both communicative and non-communicative activities was more successful than adopting a strict communicative or non-communicative teaching methodology. The study presents data taken from the teacher’s teaching log of observations related to student participation for different kinds of activities, and makes conclusions about how different activities may be more or less successful in a Chinese college classroom. While the conclusions drawn show need for further research, the results of this study provide support for the idea that using a combination approach to teaching English in the Chinese context is effective for increasing foreign language learning.