Ming Chuan University

Ming Chuan offers 2 regular terms each year, as well as a Summer School for students who fail or otherwise need to make-up credits. Each term, we are assigned classes by Dolly, the scheduling lady. Dolly uses a number of criteria to match instructors with the classes she needs taught, such as seniority, ability, and whether or not your schedule is free at that time. For example, if you have the seniority, you can ask Dolly to give you certain classes. For example, I like to teach Composition, so Dolly assigns these classes to me. This is a poor example since generally no one volunteers to teach the class. More popular are the evening school classes offered for working Taiwanese. This would be what we refer to as ‘night school’ in the West. The students are older, more motivated, and generally more appreciative of the teachers. Our teachers fight for these classes, and only the most senior teachers get them.

One of the main sources of strife in the ELC is that classes are sometimes assigned because your schedule is open at that time. This results in teachers being assigned classes that they feel unqualified to teach or being by-passed for classes that they are particularly qualified for. If this happens and you talk with Dolly or her supervisor, you can usually get the problem fixed, but this can take up a lot of time as well as create stress and tension. More often than not, things like this just end up getting forgotten.

Most classes are 2-hours long with a 1-hour lab attached to them. In the past, most teachers taught their own labs. Last year, this changed. Now, all labs are taught by Taiwanese lab teachers. This means that if you have a 12-hour schedule, you are teaching between 6 and 4 different classes. Classes in the Department of Applied English (DAE) that we sometimes teach are also 2 hours long.

Almost all the classes taught by the English Language Center are for non-English majors. These classes are taught using the Practical English series, which the school mandated we write. The books are very poor quality and extremely unpopular among both students and instructors. We are pretty free to use the book in what ever way we want, including imaginative ways quite unrelated to their content. Not using the book is not a problem per say, except that knowledge of the contents of the book will be necessary to pass the university-wide tests we administer twice a term.

Classes are very large. Some may be as large as 70 students, but they are more likely to be between 50 and 60. DAE classes are usually between 20 and 30. If you have 6 two-hour classes of 60 students that would mean your student load could be almost 400 students. This is a huge amount of marking, and there is very little time available for individual students. Compounding the problem is the fact that students are taught according to their major, rather than their level of ability. In one class you might have students who are nearly fluent and others who can’t speak a word.

My experience has been that teachers who view themselves as ‘classroom teachers’ have a great deal of trouble with this system. This doesn’t mean that some teachers are not better than others or that the best teachers don’t stand out under these conditions. However, the conditions that teachers find themselves in most of the time make it difficult to feel the kind of fulfillment that many educators hope to get from their job.

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