Comparative Analysis of English Classes in Chinese and American Primary Schools Based on Videos of Open Classes


This paper investigates the differences and similarities between the English open class recordings of Chinese and American elementary schools by using video analysis, media data analysis, video transcription method, and statistical method. The open class samples are all excellent classroom examples. The Chinese open class, “Danny’s Summer Vacation”, is selected from “The Eighth Collection of Chinese Open English Lessons for Primary Schools”. The American public lesson “Informational Text” is selected from “Original English Lessons from American Elementary Schools”. Based on the transcription of the open classes, this paper analyses the teachers’ verbal language, non-verbal language, tone, speech rate, teaching methods, teaching process, classroom environment, and class atmosphere separately. Based on the comparative analysis, the paper shows that Chinese elementary English teaching is richer in preparation and classroom activities than American English teaching, but the content is simple, almost entirely based on textbook content, and less meaningful in practical application.

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Du, Y. (2022) Comparative Analysis of English Classes in Chinese and American Primary Schools Based on Videos of Open Classes. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 10, 99-119. doi: 10.4236/jss.2022.106010.

1. Introduction

1.1. Research Background

Early elementary English teaching was introduced to China by western missionaries. With the widespread opening of elementary schools in coastal areas, the teaching of English in elementary schools was initially developed. Today, many reforms and innovations have been made in Chinese elementary English education, from curriculum standards to curriculum sets, teacher training, textbook construction, and teaching methods. However, according to Janstscher & Landsiedler (2000), language teaching in elementary school can only be successful when teachers have good qualities, excellent competencies and adequate methodologies. Chinese elementary English teaching is flourishing, but there are still many problems.

Nowadays, the national boundaries of education are gradually weakening. Communication between China and the United States grows substantially. A large number of students from both countries are exchanging every academic year. In the 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, educational cooperation has become a strong link between the two countries. Many scholars have participated in different kinds of governmental exchanges. Many overseas programs and cooperative programs are also being established. The cooperation and exchange between China and the United States in the field of education has not only contributed to the cultivation of talents in both countries, but also to the prosperity of the economy and the development of science and technology.

1.2. Research Significance

In the less than three hundred years since the founding of the United States, a large number of outstanding talents have emerged, especially after the end of World War II. There have been many outstanding talents in various fields, who have made great contributions to the politics, economy and culture of the United States (Cao, 2011). As one of the strongest countries in the world, the United States exports a large number of talents to the world every year, and the quality of its higher education is evident to the whole world. However, in a country renowned for its high-quality education, primary education is often associated with adjectives such as “easy” and “simple”. Even in some world-class competitions for elementary school students, China often outperforms the United States. According to records, the Chinese team has received a total of 22 first-place finishes in the 38 international mathematical Olympiads held from 1981 to 2019 (Wikipedia, International Mathematical Olympiad). The seemingly simple and easy elementary education in the United States seems to be at odds with its high-quality talent output, which begs the question: Is the notion that elementary education in the United States is easy true? Does the relatively light-hearted content of the class provide enough educational support for students?

At present, there are significant differences in the philosophy and approach to education in primary schools between China and the United States, and the educational outcomes are therefore different. If we can study the teaching of both countries and comparatively analyze the strengths of American elementary education, it will be beneficial to our country’s education. In a theoretical sense, the curriculum standards and lesson plans of elementary English in the United States can offer great guidance to ours. From a practical point of view, the teaching process and teaching methods of native speakers are worthy of reference for non-native speakers.

1.3. Research Objectives

The English classes can reflect the performance of students whose native language is English, as well as the English teaching methods and strategies of native teachers. English as a compulsory subject in Chinese elementary schools accounts for a significant proportion of the curriculum, so teaching and learning in the native language environment provide considerable reference for teaching English in Chinese elementary schools. Chinese primary English education places more emphasis on teaching letters, words, sentence patterns and grammar. Students’ performance in both classes and exams is mainly determined by their performance in written exams, while speaking and listening skills are relatively weak in Chinese primary English education (Li, 2011). However, even so, Chinese students do not show a significant improvement in their reading and writing skills. As a result, most Chinese students’ English is not only weak in listening and speaking, but also in reading and writing. According to ETS TOEFL Test and Score Data Summary 2019, the average score of Chinese students is 81. The average scores of reading, listening, speaking and writing are 21, 20, 20 and 20 respectively.

English has been a required subject for Chinese students since elementary school, and it is even a required subject for Chinese students to take the college entrance exam. Yet after more than a decade of study, why do Chinese students’ English standards remain low? This paper will focus on the ineffectiveness of English education in Chinese elementary schools and suggest measures for improvement by comparing English education in elementary schools in the United States.

There are many similarities between English education in elementary school in China and the US. However, Chinese teachers should learn from the flexibility of the US elementary school English classes in order to improve their own English skills and teaching abilities (Li, 2014). This thesis will compare and analyze the English open classes of Chinese and American elementary school in terms of the differences of teacher’s verbal language, non-verbal language, teaching process, teaching philosophy, class atmosphere, and class environment. Some corresponding conclusions will be reached through the comparative analysis. At the same time, implications for practical teaching will be provided.

2. Literature Review

2.1. English Teaching in Elementary School in China

2.1.1. Output and Feedback

In Chinese elementary school, the English teacher’s task is to impart knowledge, focusing on respecting and maintaining intellectual authority, i.e., getting students to “believe” in their way. Similarly, in large-scale theory and practice classroom activities, the teacher plays a prominent role, while most students passively receive knowledge (Peng, Wen et al., 2014).

The essence of the teacher’s feedback in the classroom is to answer students’ questions or correct their output, so the teacher’s feedback is secondary processing and production of knowledge and information. In different classrooms, teachers’ output takes different forms. Classroom discourse feedback in Chinese elementary schools is based on question output, for example, in the form of questions such as why, how, and where to guide students’ discourse (Zhang, 2022). The main purpose of question output in English classes of elementary schools is to prompt students to think, answer, and give correct answers.

2.1.2. Evaluation System

According to Wang (2021), teacher evaluations in China are usually conducted once a semester or school year. They are usually based on the teacher’s teaching level, teaching effectiveness, and individual test scores. Due to the influence of traditional educational system in China, teachers and schools emphasize norm-referenced evaluation of students.

The criterion for evaluating a course is whether the instructor has taught the content of the course in a forty-minute class. Also, a vital evaluation criterion is whether the students have met the standard of understanding and given the instructor correct answers.

2.1.3. Teaching Philosophy

Primary English aims to lay the foundation of English for students, cultivate their English literacy, and teach a second language in a student-oriented way. However, in practice, primary English classroom teaching in China is often teacher-led, while the proactivity of students is slightly weak. Since it is hard for Chinese English education in elementary school to disobey the concept of studying for test-taking, it often relies too much on knowledge inculcation in teaching (Ni, 2019). It does not put students in the central position of the class. In addition, English is a new second language. In a non-native environment, it is pretty difficult for elementary school students with the weak cognitive ability to learn independently. In terms of mental characteristics, students need to improve their abilities by themselves.

2.2. English Teaching in Elementary Schools in the United States

2.2.1. Output and Feedback

In the native language class, US elementary English teachers also ask questions. This kind of language output is to facilitate students’ output. The teacher’s purpose in asking questions is not to get students to give correct answers but to talk more (Kawalkar & Vijapurkar, 2013). When teachers receive students’ feedback, they usually give students encouragement, regardless of whether the student’s answer is correct or not. Thus, in American elementary English classrooms, correct answers are not excellent feedback, and the purpose of questions is not to get students to give accurate feedback. US teachers focus more on developing students’ practical skills. They are willing to let student to ask question and critique the authority. In the US elementary education system, getting students to ask questions in their ways is necessary. Thus, independent learning, group work, and small group activities are ubiquitous in English classes of American elementary schools, which promote students’ active exploration of knowledge.

2.2.2. Evaluation System

The evaluation of English teachers in elementary schools in the United States uses long-term development as the evaluation benchmark. Teachers’ development potential, social resources are all essential evaluation criteria. The US evaluates students’ courses primarily based on their abilities to innovate. Compared to Chinese curriculum assessment, the US elementary English curriculum assessment standards emphasize whether students can come up with enough innovative ideas in the classroom (Lu, 2013). These ideas do not necessarily have to be correct, but they must be fresh and unique, proposed independently by the students.

2.2.3. Teaching Philosophy

English classes in the United States focus more on students’ language output and put students at the center of the class. There is less continuous output from the teacher in the classroom, and students have more time for group discussion and hands-on activities. English homework in the US elementary schools is mainly in the form of activities that students like to do, such as games, animations, drawings, etc. (Jiao, 2018).

2.3. Related Researches on English Open Classes

An open class is an organized, planned, and purposeful formal public lecture for a specific group of people. It is a good opportunity for teachers to show their teaching level and exchange teaching experience. The open class format was gradually developed during the teacher’s professional training in China. It is a Chinese format of class and plays a crucial role in Chinese primary and secondary school teaching. It is not only a common form of classroom teaching in schools, but also one of the important components of teaching and research activities (Liu, 2012). Through open classes, teachers’ teaching processes can be more objectively observed, evaluated, debugged and improved. Likewise, students will be able to focus better and improve their classroom efficiency in open class situations (Dai, 2014).

In recent years, as the new curriculum reform progresses step by step, a wide variety of open lessons, demonstration lessons, and competition lessons have been held, attracting widespread attention from teachers (Ouyang, 2007). By observing the open classes, we can know the teaching methods of the teachers and the performance of the students. The open class has also reflected some problems, like hinting before the class, overemphasizing the rules in the class, and over-relying on the best students to answer. These series of phenomena can reflect the lack of student-centeredness of some teachers and their over-emphasis on their dominant role (Liu, 2021).

As an essential platform for interpreting advanced educational concepts, promoting successful teaching experiences, conducting practical teaching seminars and improving teachers’ teaching skills and professionalism, open classes have functions and values unmatched by other forms of teaching. Thus, open classes have been irreplaceable for a long time. It also has a vital role in educational research, student development, and teacher professional growth.

Currently, western scholars are promoting lesson study, which became widespread in the United States in 1999. Lesson study is a teacher research activity simultaneously with student learning in real classroom contexts. It involves a group of teachers working together to plan, implement, test, and improve the content of a lesson that needs to be studied (Monnier & Gruson, 2018). Lesson study groups generally consist of five to seven teachers from the same school and are conducted regularly for several months to a year. There are some common characteristics of lesson study: the class is recorded and audio-taped so that other teachers can observe it and focus on a specific educational goal. A lesson study in American elementary English is basically the equivalent of an open class in China (Chen, 2011).

For English class, the difference between open class and close class mainly lies in the motivation of teachers and students. Since open class has the meaning of demonstration and there are other teachers listening to the class, teachers and students will spontaneously increase their motivation and participation in the class when conducting open class. For students in open English classes in elementary school, open class’ feature is certainly beneficial. Students are able to improve their classroom concentration with supervision, and they also get more opportunities to exercise as teachers deliberately add a teacher-student interactive environment to the open class.

3. Research Design and Methodology

3.1. Subjects

In this paper, Chinese and American elementary school English open classes were selected as the subject. The Chinese open class was selected from the Collection of the 8th English Open Classes in Chinese Elementary Schools. The US open lesson was selected from the Original Collection of American Elementary School English Lessons. Students in these two classes are both in the sixth grades. Two representative classes (Danny’s Summer holiday by a Chinese teacher and Informational Text by an American teacher) were analyzed comparatively from the perspective of verbal languages, non-verbal languages, teaching process, teaching philosophy, classroom atmosphere, and class environment.

3.2. Methods

According to Video Analysis and Videography Qualitative Methods (Hubert et al., 2012), the open class record is one kind of “Native” video data. There have been two major ways of dealing with this type of material for research purposes. Both are related to the two different functions that camcorders combine: the apparatus provides an audiovisual recording technology for events taking place in the common environment of actors; and it also offers a device for viewing these recordings. A number of approaches refer to this kind of “media data” as video analysis method. In this paper, we use open class records as media data in native data, and use observation method, transcription method, and statistical method as approaches to perform video analysis (Calmet et al., 2019).

The observation method was used to summarize and conclude the verbal and body language in the selected public class videos and the transcription method was used to record the contents of the videos in a tabular format to create a clear comparison. The body and verbal language of teachers and students, various teacher-student interactions, and the classroom environment are presented in written form. Subsequently, the statistical approach was used to quantify the two teachers’ non-verbal language and verbal language in the class and compare teacher’s and students’ conversations, speeches, and body language.

4. Results and Discussion

4.1. Similarities of the Open Classes

In Chinese and American classes, students have the same seating distribution: groups of several students are seated around a large table. Both teachers moved their hands with the frequency and rhythm of their speech during the teaching. Both Chinese and American teachers made extensive use of multimedia courseware as the teaching aid. Both teachers were able to employ many activities during the teaching. The students were able to focus on the class and did not get distracted easily. At the same time, with the joint efforts of teachers and students, the atmosphere in both classes was also relatively lively.

4.2. Differences of the Open Classes

4.2.1. Differences in Verbal Language

1) Tone

The Chinese teacher’s teaching is rich in tone changes and emotionally contagious. The American teacher has a relatively smooth voice in the class, and although there are variations in pitch, he does not deliberately capture students’ attention through changes in pitch and volume.

2) Classroom Language

Since the teachers in English classes are non-native speakers and native speakers respectively, there is a vast difference in the classroom language used by the two teachers. The Chinese teacher’s classroom language is relatively monotonous and simple, with a high repetition of vocabulary, while the American teacher’s speech is more complex, lifelike, and colloquial.

According to Appendix, during the first 15 minutes of class, the Chinese teacher verbally mentioned You please/xx please 10 times, Okay 3 times, the question Are you happy? 2 times, the question in the form of Will you 10 times, Super! 3 times, and Thank you 11 times. On the contrary, the American teacher only mentioned You please and Okay twice. He used many authentic expressions and difficult words in his speaking, such as ACEing reading’, “good readers principle” and “reading annotation”.

3) Rate

When the selected public lesson videos were counted and calculated, the Chinese teacher said 649 words in the first 14 minutes and 52 seconds of the lesson, which means that the Chinese teacher spoke about 0.73 words per second. The American teacher said 902 words in the first 6 minutes and 13 seconds of the lesson, which means that the American teacher said about 2.42 words per second. The data shows that the Chinese teacher spoke at a much slower rate than that of the American teacher in the open classes.

4.2.2. Differences in Non-Verbal Language

The Chinese teacher was very expressive since the beginning of the class, smiling nearly 80% of the time, and her facial expressions often changed as the class progressed. In contrast, the facial expressions of American teachers were not as rich, and the teacher did not deliberately keep smiling but were relatively more spontaneous and natural.

The US teacher was positioned in the middle of the classroom most of the time and was in the center of the students. When it was time to switch the PowerPoint, show other contents, or distribute tasks, the teacher moved in the other direction of the classroom: for example, when wanting to show students the meaning of the word “annotate”, the teacher moved to the side of the classroom, and used the tips hanging on the wall to illustrate. In another example, the teacher moved to the front of the classroom to show students the pictures on the PowerPoint. The Chinese teacher had a small range of mobile locations, moving only near the podium and the front half of the classroom. In fact, the Chinese teacher was almost always standing next to the blackboard, except for the session when she played Danny for the sitcom.

4.2.3. Differences in Teaching Process

1) Lead-in

In the Chinese teacher’s class, the introduction took about 7 minutes of the teacher’s time, accounting for 17% of the lesson. In the American teacher’s class, the introduction took very little time, with the teacher spending only one minute on a brief introduction and historical background of the text, which accounted for 2% of the class time. The American teacher didn’t spend too much time in the lead-in. On the contrary, the Chinese teacher was keen to have a lead-in to motivate students, captures their attention, and lead them to the focus of the course.

2) Class Activity

In the Chinese English classroom, games are the main form of activity. The teacher designed many classroom games, such as hangman game, chain game and situational performances. For American class, there were few classroom activities in the form of games. Although the game format was not applied, the American teacher did adopt rich classroom activities, including having students complete an assigned task, asking students to read on their own for a specific period of time and fill in the assignment sheets given by the teacher on their own.

3) Interaction

In the Chinese English class, the teacher and students talked alternately. In the American English class, however, the teacher spent a lot of time explaining what the lesson was about and the skills used, and then gave all the time to the students to read and discuss and think. Children were seated casually in the US classroom, and the teacher interacted with individuals significantly more often than that in the Chinese classroom.

Due to cultural differences, China focuses on respecting teachers. At the beginning of class, students greeted the teacher in a neat and unified voice while bowing as a sign of respect. For instance, students stood up together and said: “Good morning Ms. Liu… Thank you Ms. Liu!” However, the American students just sat there and greeted the teacher briefly.

4) Questions Forms and Student’s Feedback

Based on the transcription tables (Table 1 & Table 2), the form and proportion of oral questions asked by teachers in both Chinese and American classrooms were counted. The Chinese teacher’s questions were primarily special questions, and about 19 special questions were asked. Among them, 12 questions began with what, one with where, when, why, and how respectively, and three questions began with which. For the American teacher, there were general questions and special questions, and there were about 15 special questions in total. Among them, 9 started with what, and 2 started with when, why, and who respectively. Sixty-three percent of Chinese teachers’ special interrogative sentences were guided by what, while 60% of American teachers’ special interrogative sentences were guided by what. The proportion of questions that begin with what is basically the same for both Chinese and American teachers. Both teachers chose questions based on the students’ English proficiency. The questions asked by the American teachers generally were more diverse and comprehensive, but the Chinese teacher’s questions were more basic.

In the open classes in both countries, students’ feedback was largely consistent with the questions asked by the teachers. Chinese students mainly used basic vocabulary to communicate and respond, while American students were very proficient in their native language, and conversations proceeded smoothly.

Table 1. Numbers of questions.

Table 2. Percentage of questions.

5) Use of the Blackboard

The Chinese classroom used the blackboard very frequently. The blackboard is divided into four sections in advance by the teacher: hangman game, tree climbing trivia game, title, and what Danny did on his summer vacation. In American classrooms, the blackboard was barely used. Everything that needs to be presented was shown on the screen and on the assignment paper, and the teacher didn’t even write on the blackboard for the entire class.

4.2.4. Differences in Teaching Philosophy

American education philosophy focuses on freedom, independence, independent learning, emphasis on understanding, and practicality (Li et al., 2018). American elementary education tells students that learning is their own business, allowing them to think for themselves. Thus students generally learn actively, flexibly, and happily. For example, in the open class, the teacher let the students use their ideas to interpret what it means to be good readers and, at the same time, read the article according to their interest. Chinese educational philosophy, however, focuses on the correctness of the knowledge acquired by the students, while less important is attached to the student’s preferences and interests. The Chinese teacher, for example, deliberately corrected the students’ different opinions during the open class rather than letting them answer as they saw fit.

4.2.5. Differences in Class Atmosphere

It is worth mentioning that, the Chinese open class is more compact and perfectly arranged than the American open class. The US open class is much closer to the actual state of students acquiring new knowledge. This phenomenon is also related to the different meanings of the open class in the two countries: for Chinese elementary English education, the open class is more for teachers or schools to evaluate and compete, while for American elementary English education, the purpose of the open class recording is to provide feedback on the actual situation in the class for subsequent research and reflection on teaching.

In Chinese English classes, nearly all students in the class have stood up to answer questions, while in American English classes, teachers devote a lot of time to having students complete the tasks on their own. While Chinese classes have a lively student atmosphere, with teachers trying to involve every student in student-teacher interaction as much as possible, American classes place more emphasis on students’ ability to learn on their own.

4.2.6. Differences in Classroom Environment

In the open class in China, several students sat neatly around a table, facing the teacher. A microphone was placed at each table to facilitate the recording of the open class. When the classroom environment is compared, it is found that the Chinese classroom is clean and tidy, relatively empty, and free of things that are not relevant to learning. The blackboard is covered with alphabet forms, stickers, and decorations in the US classroom. There are also some drawings and paintings on the walls. Although most of the decorations are not directly related to the classroom content, they can broaden students’ knowledge and attract their interest. Meanwhile, a row of computers is placed on the side of the classroom.

The English open class of US is held in the same classroom within the teaching building, which is less likely to have an impact on the authenticity. The recording site of the Chinese Primary English Open Class is in a large arena with a large audience and camera crew around the classroom. This may lead to a possible gap between the classroom atmosphere and the actual classroom situation and also leads to both teachers and students not being relaxed enough and somewhat nervous. Students’ concentration levels show an inverted U-shaped change as the complexity of the teaching environment increases (Zhang, 2008).

4.2.7. Differences in Class Size

Regarding the number of students in the class, the Chinese class had 30 students. The American class had 19 students. Students in the Chinese class are divided into several groups—four students in one group, but the number of students in American class groups is random. There are more students in the Chinese classroom than that of the American classroom.

4.3. Discussion

The comparative analysis of English open classes in elementary schools in China and the US shows that education has different styles in the context of the different national conditions of the two countries. Primary school education in elementary schools in the US generally focuses on developing children’s intelligence and creation. It emphasizes students’ ability to read, write and think. As a result, elementary school classes in the United States not only have a serious attitude, but also have a lively atmosphere and no fixed classroom pattern. Teachers and students are psychologically relaxed and they dress casually.

In recent years, English education in China has followed the example of the native American classroom with interest-based instruction. The English Curriculum Standards (2011) state that the English curriculum in compulsory education is both instrumental and humanistic. Language is a tool for communication and a tool for thinking. The standards set the target requirements at all levels by describing students as being able to communicate in English. It also emphasizes that teachers need to pay particular attention to cultivating students’ strong interest in learning, positive learning attitudes, good learning habits, and a sense of creative language use at the primary level. In a certain sense, the concept and implementation of interest-based teaching are consistent with the setting of the new curriculum standards and have a specific theoretical basis. In the Chinese open class “Danny’s Summer Holiday” selected for this paper, the teacher also stimulated students’ interest through word-guessing games and other means.

Due to the limitations, elementary school education in China cannot reach the small class size of the western countries, as in the case of the selected open class, most schools adopt the large class size. The large number of students in each class may lead to passive learning for students in China. Teachers arrange all learning tasks. Teachers also impart knowledge to students directly, and all of the activities are designed by teachers. These will definitely weaken students’ initiative, independence, and cooperation. Although our elementary school English teachers have tried their best to avoid boredom, with one-dimensional teacher teaching indoctrination, they are still centered on teaching. The classroom activities are less flexible for students, who rarely have the opportunity to play freely (Li, 2011).

At the same time, many Chinese English teachers are not able to teach purely in English because they are not native speakers. As mentioned earlier, Chinese teachers’ verbal language is very simple and monotonous. Native-language instruction is more suitable for American elementary English because the teachers are very proficient in English. Second, the students have a far better foundation in English than beginners. Usually, second language learners learn language by imitating native speakers, and the more closely they think like native speakers, the better they acquire the language. However, it is very difficult for second language learners to achieve the same level of proficiency as native speakers (Wang, 2002). There are also phenomena in the public class that fit the theory. Chinese students, for example, try to communicate with their teachers in English like native speakers, yet both teachers and students are limited to a selection of simpler words in the communication process—that is, many difficult expressions are avoided in the conversation (Sun, 2003).

5. Conclusion and Implication

5.1. Major Findings

Through observation, transcription statistics, and comparative analysis, it is concluded that the American elementary school classroom is not as casual and relaxed as we had thought. The American teacher dominates the classroom just as the Chinese teacher does, except that the tasks assigned to students in the American class are more challenging and require more independent thinking. The Chinese class is very interesting for non-native speakers, and the teacher arranges many games and activities. Still, they are relatively simple, and the students have been trained in advance. From the curriculum, games, the overall atmosphere, and teacher-student Q&A, it can be seen that the teachers and students have rehearsed in advance. When the Chinese teacher asked the students to play the chain game, she did not explain the game, but the students had already started it on their own initiative. The interaction between the students was very smooth and they did not have time to think. This shows that the students had practiced the game, at least in part, in advance. According to An (2013), open classes in China are mainly divided into demonstration, competition and seminar types. However, seminar-type open classes actually undergo the same pre-class preparation as the first two types, with teachers and students rehearsing and prompting in advance. Therefore, Chinese elementary school English classes’ learning efficiency in open classes is open to question.

Chinese elementary education aims to train students to learn the accumulation and inculcation of knowledge. It not only focuses on cultivating respect for authority but also on the mastery of knowledge and constructing a knowledge system. In China, a country of etiquette, wearing pajamas or dressing casually in formal occasions is traditionally considered to be a sign of indecency. Thus, all students wear school uniforms in the open class.

American education focuses on cultivating students’ self-confidence, independence, and self-reliance, while Chinese education pays attention to developing students’ rigorous spirit. American elementary education is more colorful than Chinese education, but it is wildly insufficient in terms of the systematicity of knowledge and the organization of ability training. On the other hand, Chinese elementary education should learn from the spirit of exploration and discovery in the United States.

Since the research subjects selected for this paper are two representative open class recordings in China and the United States, the number of data and open class records is relatively small. The influence of individual teachers cannot be excluded. Therefore, there may be limitations in analyzing English education in elementary schools in China and the United States.

5.2. Implications for Practical Teaching

Chinese students should be instilled with innovative ideas and given more opportunities to think independently in the teaching process. American students should be given a solid foundation, and their mastery of the basics should be enhanced while retaining their wild ideas. In other words, the American elementary English education should stimulate the creativity of talented students. In contrast, the Chinese elementary English education should give hardworking students a more solid foundation of knowledge.

With the continuous development of society and the education field, the international trend is pretty clear. Thus, the significance of teaching English in elementary schools cannot be overlooked. The open class of the native language in elementary schools in the United States has significant implications for English education in elementary schools in China. To enhance the teaching effect, we should draw on the strengths of the native language class to carry out in-depth teaching reform and guide students to comprehend the practical utility of English culture and English knowledge. Also, we should try to improve students’ interest in learning English comprehensively. Therefore, the first step in teaching English in elementary school is to eliminate those traditional wrong teaching concepts, change the single teaching mode, and highlight the practical use of English.

From the open class cases selected in this paper, it can be seen that Chinese elementary school open classes are effective when sufficient preparation has been made in advance. However, in the actual class, most students cannot communicate fluently and comfortably in their non-native language. For students, low communication ability can also lead to much less effective interaction between teachers and students in the actual classroom. Admittedly, as a non-native elementary English class, it is impossible for students to have the same language foundation as native American students. What is critical for our elementary school English is to enhance the students’ ability to think instead of learning the material rigorously and rigidly. The emphasis should be on the students’ understanding and application of the knowledge they are learning. There are many ways to help students feel relaxed and concentrate in an authentic classroom. Take the public class chosen for this paper as an example: during the course, the instructor may not ask students to stand up and answer questions, and students may not have to raise their hands if they have questions for fear of disrupting the class. In the open class, when one male student gave a wrong answer, the teacher should not deny his answer but should encourage him and give him room for reflection.

The American elementary school English classroom has brought us many more insights into the teaching process. Students’ motivation to learn is essential in American elementary English education, and it is a prerequisite for understanding the curriculum well. The goal for motivation is to help students clarify the purpose of learning, let them know that the content is relevant to their lives, and help them develop a need to learn. At the same time, Chinese elementary school English teachers should not be limited to teaching knowledge within the textbook. Language learning should not stop at knowing and understanding but should be about students learning to use English as a tool. The English class should be relaxing and application-oriented for language beginners. In the Chinese elementary school English open class selected for this paper, the teacher has already tried her best to get students to talk and answer as much as possible, but the course still centered on the questions the teacher asked and what the teacher lectured.

Finally, in Chinese open English classes, students are clearly trained in advance, even to the point of knowing the sessions of the course in advance. The point of a public class is to facilitate better classroom set-up and progression for teachers in their teaching research, and authentic student response should be paramount (Ni, 2021). For English teaching in elementary school in China, teachers should put aside their utilitarianism and test-taking mentality and focus on making students know how to use a language.


Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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