Lights. . . Camera. . . Action--Salem-Teikyo Gets Filmed by the Chinese
by Diane Honeman


Lights. . . camera. . . action. These words went through my mind more than once during the month of August, 1998, as I checked over class notes, smoothed my hair, and sucked in my stomach in preparation for daily filming by a TV crew from the People's Republic of China.

Actually, the TV crew was less interested in filming me than they were a group of Chinese students who were attending a three-week camp at Salem-Teikyo University. I just happened to be their teacher! The camp was designed to acquaint the students with West Virginia--its history, traditions, and people--while improving their proficiency in English. So why the TV crew? They were there to film for a documentary they were planning to write and then air to a large audience upon their return to Mainland China.

The task of preparing appropriate lessons for this camp seemed a little daunting, but fortunately the Office of Student Affairs had planned a series of daily trips around West Virginia and one extended trip to Washington, D. C. When I focused on preparing students for these trips, lesson plans seemed to fall more logically into place. Authentic brochures and maps provided a context for learning new vocabulary and practicing conversational patterns. A video that highlighted attractions in Washington was the basis for some listening comprehension activities, and dialogue journals were easily filled with thought and feelings about the various places we had visited.

The students made marbled paper and spun wool at Fort New Salem, observed Governor Underwood in Charleston fielding questions at a press conference, toured the Fenton Glass Factory, and watched cheerleading, football, and band practice at Robert C. Byrd High School. Kennywood, of course, was a big hit, as was the trip to Washington. One of the main reasons they enjoyed the trips so much was because they were accompanied by Japanese and American university students they came to know well and felt comfortable talking with.

Usually, the TV crew stuck to filming, but they enjoyed the activities, too. I have one vivid memory of watching them abandon their cameras to sing "Country Roads, Take Me Home" and then join the class in a clogging lesson.

Not long ago, one of the participants wrote me to say that the documentary is being aired in China. I hope it generates lots of feelings of good will toward the people and places of West Virginia. If it does that, I'd consider the camp a success!

Diane Honeman

Salem-Teikyo University

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WVTESOL Newsletter Editor: Linda Yoder

Salem-Teikyo University

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