This sums up teaching.

I have just come across a website/blog link that, to me, has summed up much of my experience of teaching in China.

http://www.vagabondjourney.com/the-china-english-teaching-experience/ 

From Vagabond Journey around the world perpetual travel; it is worth a read to those aspiring English teachers.

Yes you will have to evaluate students, do lesson plans and talk to their parents.

Yes you will be treated like a human resource.

Yes you will be flexible. The amount of times students have been added to my timetable unexpectedly has been quite a few.

And yes, I too have been asked if I would like my face to be plastered over Chengdu by my company.

Oh what a delight that would have been.

Aisling.

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10 Facts about China.

map_of_china

Ta Da: here is my blog about China.

1. One in every five people in the world is Chinese. China’s population is estimated to reach a whopping 1,338,612,968 by July 2009. China’s population is four times that of the United States

2. Giant Pandas (“bear cat”) date back two to three million years. The early Chinese emperors kept pandas to ward off evil spirits and natural disasters. Pandas also were considered symbols of might and bravery.

panda

3.The custom of binding feet (euphemistically called “golden lilies”) began among female entertainers and members of the Chinese court during the Song dynasty (A.D. 960-1279). Tightly wrapped bandages gradually broke the arch of the foot and caused the woman’s toes and heel to grow inward toward one another. Her leg muscles would also atrophy and become very thin. Bound feet were seen as highly sexual.

feet

4.Historians speculate that as the Chinese population grew, people had to conserve cooking fuel by chopping food into small pieces so that it could cook faster. These bite-sized foods eliminated the need for knives and, hence, chopsticks were invented.

5.The name of China’s capital has changed over the centuries. At one time or another it has been known as Yanjing, Dadu, and Beiping. Peking or “Beijing means “Northern Capital.”

6.It was customary for wealthy men and women in the late empire to grow the nails of their little fingers extremely long as a sign of their rank. They often wore decorative gold and silver nail guards to protect their nails. It is sometimes still seen today.

7.China’s “one child” policy has contributed to female infanticide and has created a significant gender imbalance. There are currently 32 million more boys than girls in China. In the future, tens of millions of men will be unable to find wives, prompting some scholars to suggest that this imbalance could lead to a threat to world security.

8.In some parts of China, “pigtails” were associated with a girl’s marital status. A young girl would wear two pigtails, and when she married, she would wear just one. This may have contributed to the Western view that pigtails are associated with children and young girls.

9.China’s national flag was adopted in September 1949 and first flown in Tiananmen Square (the world’s largest public gathering place) on October 1, 1949, the day the People’s Republic of China was formed. The red in the flag symbolizes revolution. The large star symbolizes communism and the little stars represent the Chinese people. The position of the stars represents the unity of the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party.

china

10.China invented ice cream, and Marco Polo is rumored to have taken the recipe (along with the recipe for noodles) back with him to Europe.

Aisling.

Are things beginning to look up?

I know I rant about some of my troublesome students on my blog. There were two in particular that drove me up the wall. But finally, after 9 months with one of my groups, the two girls are splitting up.

From the beginning they were a nuisance. It was a roller-coaster of a class. The first few months weren’t very good. Then, suddenly they started to behave themselves. Then, when they came back after the summer holidays; BAM, they were very bold again. I was at the end of my tether with them.

But one day, one of the girls didn’t want to go to class. I presumed it was because of me, she didn’t want to have class. But I was reassured that it was because she didn’t want to have class with the other student.

So me and the other student had class.

I’m telling you, it was the best class I had. Because there was only one of them, it was a great class. She wasn’t chatting, jumping about and generally causing mayhem. She did what I asked her to do, and she really tried to speak English and to learn.

During the class, she looked up at the clock and imitated it. Tick Tick Tick. She never heard the clock make that sound before because her and the other student always talked in class. I said to her ‘Yes, thats because you and Wendy keep talking and talking and talking’. She laughed.

After class I told the mother that she was very very good today. Surprisingly then, my Chinese PA for that class said ‘Aisling, Cherry’s Mum wants her to be split, so she will be 1-1.’ I assured the parent that that was the best option. So now, the two girls are going to be split.

Also, another one of my groups that was causing me trouble has really turned around. She is around 4 years old and she gets bored very quickly. She is the girl that kept saying ‘I hate you’ in Chinese. Well, no more! She actually enjoys playing with me now, and its a good class. Although I still need a tonne of things to keep her entertained or else I hear ‘mei you xia ke?’: is class finished?.

But typical, when I have only about 2 weeks left until Mexico. then only 2 months of my contract, its NOW that things begin to change. If it changed the first week I started, it would have been much better.

But I suppose, better late than never.

Aisling.

Outside the classroom.

With the majority of my students, this happens. If I see them before class begins, I would ask one of my students ‘How are you?’. Total silence. They look at me with a mixture of expressions. First, their face turns into a sort of bewilderment. It’s sort of like they don’t understand the question. I have asked this many times when class starts, and they are happy to reply. ‘Im fine thank you, and you?’ But once they are out of the classroom, they literally freeze up.

Second, they actually look afraid of me. It’s as if I am testing them on their English and if they say it correctly. To them, it’s speak English in class. Speak Chinese outside of class.

With one girl, I asked her ‘How are you?’. She’s 6 years old. I get that scared sort of expression and I hear ‘mmmm….uuhhhhh’. I repeated. Again, I hear ‘uuuhhhh’. I said ‘Are you hungry?’ Nothing. ‘Are you thirsty?’. Nada. ‘Are you happy?’…. I hear a small ‘yes, I’m happy.’ I decide to let her escape from this traumatic experience.

Yet once she’s in the classroom, she’s fine. She actually replies back to me! Its pretty annoying when the parents interrogate the students on what they learn after class. If they don’t want to speak English to me outside of class, how on earth are they going to speak English to their parents or grandparents?

I met another student outside one day. She was sitting with her mother eating food. I cycle past and I hear ‘AISLING!’ I turn around and I see her. I cycle back to her and ask her ‘Oh are you hungry?’ Then THAT look appeared. What did she say? My Mum is here and she will hear me speaking to the teacher. Should I speak in English to her? I don’t want to speak English. I’ll just be quiet. … Which she did.

So after I asked her two more times with no reply, I gave up, along with a little of my pride. The Mum most likely thinking ‘My daughter doesn’t know any English at all.’

But miraculously, in class I asked ‘How are you?’ and she said ‘I’M EXCITED!’ Theres no hope outside the class.

Although this isn’t always the case. Some students are more than willing to talk to you which is great. Not so great when they come half an hour early and they want to talk to you with very broken English. I like to relax and kind of be by myself before my classes.

I suppose it depends on the students and how confident they are at speaking English. It is amazing though to see the levels of each students. Two students the same age could have a completely different level of English.

I had a 6 year old and her English was amazing. Very very good for a 6 year old. Because she was so advanced she was moved to a higher class and onto a different book aimed for 7-9 year olds. Her mother spoke fluent English so this was a major reason.

And I suppose, If I was that age and someone started talking French to me I would most likely have done the same as my students. Say nothing to the scary lady.

Aisling.

A little weekend trip

So last week myself and a few other decided to head west of Chengdu. Going west means you are heading into Tibetan influenced areas. We quickly found out that everything revolves in and around Chengdu, and that anywhere else is deemed ‘rural’.

We decided to rent a car for the journey. It’s more comfortable, plus, a friend of a friend living in Beijing came down so he assured us he would drive. The madness of Chinese roads makes me wonder how anyone can drive on them.

So we left at around 9am on Tuesday and we arrived there in the afternoon. The peoples facial features were different, looking similar to Tibetan people. They speak a different dialect to people in Chengdu, and their houses are very much different. Here, because no one would dream to live many hours away from a city, they have plenty of land, so they can comfortably build a house. The opposite is true for Chengdu, where there is literally no space to build any type of house other than high rise apartments. Plus it is extremely extremely expensive.

One thing we did notice is how fresh the air is. Although it was colder than Chengdu, the weather was actually nice! We could actually see blue sky. The freshness of the air reminded me of Ireland air, stepping off the plane and breathing the freshness of it, especially coming from China.

The first evening we decided to walk around the small town 20 minutes away from our hotel. By town, I mean a road with about a dozen houses and shops. I have no idea how they manage to sell anything because it was pretty obvious not many people visit there.

The next day we headed up the mountains. When we arrived there was snow which I wasn’t expecting. I presumed the weather would be the same as Chengdu, but it was because we were at such a high altitude it was cold enough for snow.

The place reminded me a lot of Jiuzhaigou in Northern Sichuan, but on a much much smaller scale. It was really Christmassy because of all the snow on the trees and the mountains.

On the way up, the Chinese on the bus were extremely excited to see all the snow. It was quite apparent some of none don’t encounter snow very often. OOOHHH and AAAHHH were heard on the bus all the way up to the mountain.

It’s nice to see other parts of Sichuan. Hopefully I’ll be able to see many more places in China.

Aisling

Laptops?

I’m in a dilemma at the moment. My laptop is still broken. And it will stay that way. Unfortunately I can’t get it fixed in China because they don’t have the necessary part for it, and it would be too expensive to ship it over.

My laptop was nearly 6 years old, so it did have a long life. So now I have to look for a new one.

For the past two weeks I’ve been changing my mind over and over again about what type to get. My Chinese friends has a Microsoft Surface and at a time I was thinking ‘yes, I’ll get that.’

Then I ended up checking out the MacBooks. Before this I thought ‘no. too expensive.’ But then I found the MacBook Air. The 11inch would be perfect.

With my old laptop, I needed it for Uni. Whereas now, my reasons for needing one has changed. I want a small one so it will be easy to travel with. So I thought the MacBook Air would suffice to this need.

Although the price tag is a little on the dear end.

I’m having a look around on the Internet for cheaper prices, but one thing is for sure, I won’t be buying it from Ireland. It is €100 dearer if I bought it there. Hong Kong is known for it’s cheap electronics so maybe I can get one from there.

And hopefully the next laptop won’t drive me mad like the last one.

Aisling.