What a difference a year makes. I’m talking about my students and how I can see a big difference with regards to their basic English and what activities to do with them. I can do numerous activities with 5 year old student. But with 4 year olds, I have to adapt my way of teaching them, because they have limited English in comparison to 5 year olds.
I asked some of the people I work with ‘What age do you prefer to work with?’. Most of them said ‘Teens and adults’. If asked the same question, I would reply the same. Although working with children is good in some ways, like being able to play with them… it’s hard. They cry, don’t listen, shout, run around the room when you tell them to sit down, don’t want to do something, or just cause mischief. Although I do have a class of 3 students and generally they are very good, they are one of my best groups.
The parents are another thing to think about. For instance, I have 2 girls and I was teaching them ‘bowl, cup, plate, pan’. After the class, the teachers have to talk to the parents or grandparents and tell them what we did and what their behaviour was like. I mean, they literally INTERROGATE them after class, pointing at a picture and they asking ‘THIS?’, forcing the student to say the correct word. I’m there thinking ‘PLEASE say the correct word, show them I am a good teacher!’ But sometimes they still get it wrong. Last time I drew a picture with a ball on a table, under a table, on a chair, and in the bin, teaching them ‘on, under , in’. As usual, the grandparents interrogated the girls, but they said them correct, and I was delighted of course!
On the other-hand, teaching teens and adults is having more like having a chat with them. Yeah you teach them things, but a lot of the time, my students talk to me. I have two girls, and they LOVE to talk. They tell me about school, exams, what they did last week, singers they like. Last week, I had one girl (the other had an exam) and she chatted to me about having exams. Not using my lesson plan at all, I used our conversation to make up a list of things you should do to pass an exam.
For another teen, aged 14, last week, we discussed the different culture between China and Ireland (I love talking about cultural aspects so any chance to bring this topic up, I will). We then talked about people’s personality, introverts and extroverts, and which one does she thinks it’s better to be. She answered ‘being
in the middle’, which I think was a good answer. I love this class, and her English is excellent, she’s great to teach.
I also had a man to teach last week. I have to say that was a struggle. He only comes once maybe every 2 months. I was sharing him with another teacher. Although I enjoyed talking to him, I ran out of things to talk about! He’s not a girl, so I couldn’t talk to him about shopping and clothes and the usual things girls talk about. His hobby is stocks…yes, STOCKS! How could I talk about that! I haven’t the faintest idea about business, never mind stocks.
I asked the other teacher what they talked about: business, investment, stocks, economy… things I have no idea about. So those 4 times I had him, I had to think hard about what to talk to him about. So not all adults are easy!
But I have to say, the company that I work for is actually very good. Every month they have ‘trainings’ where you go and learn about different aspects of teaching. From ‘early learners’ ‘children’s development’ and ‘phonics’, they really help the teachers out with learning new things.
Later today, they have a gathering for new teachers, so I’ll go to that and meet the other newbies. There are over 13 campuses in Chengdu alone, so there are a lot of new teachers!
And soon, my campus will have our ‘team building workshop’ so I’m looking forward to that!