Their English & My Spanish

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I’ve been dabbling in Spanish for the past few months, but I’ve only really been putting an extra effort in it since I came back from Mexico. I can have a basic conversation and I say I’m about A2 right now. I can understand more than what I can say. So I think I’m gradually getting better with it! I don’t think my pronunciation is bad, but I need to learn the conjugations and what not. Plus increase my vocab.

As I teach English to Chinese students, I’ve been meeting up with every student and asking them “Where are you from?” “Where do you want to visit in China?” “What country do you want to visit?” and ” What do you do in your free-time?”.

Simple enough questions. But I noticed that so many of my students have atrocious English! Some of them don’t even understand “Where are you from?”.

I actually realised that I can speak better Spanish than they can speak English…… and they have been learning English since they were 4 years old!

I understand English is similar to Spanish, but these kids have been learning it since they were little. They really should be more fluent. Plus many, if not all of my students get basic tenses wrong. they would say ‘She get’, ‘Yesterday I go….’

Like this is very basic grammar, but yet they struggle. In Chinese they don’t have tenses. So for ‘I eat’ is ‘Wo chi’/ 我吃.

‘I ate’ is ‘Wo chi le’/ 我吃了.

You add ‘le’ 了 and it changes to past. So there is no conjugation needed in Chinese. So I do understand that changing tenses and what not is difficult for them, but come on, it’s not as if they only started learning English!

I think a huge part is how they are taught it at school. They are made to learn long boring passages in English from their books, and it’s just not useful for them. They don’t do enough/or any speaking in class, and they focus too much on grammar. So the way they are taught doesn’t exactly help them.

Plus many just don’t want to learn English. They don’t plan on leaving China, so why should they bother? Personally I think they are crazy; they are wrapped in their own bubble here and they have no interest in exploring the world. They are taught that China is best…. so why would they want to leave that?

Many know that English is important, I’ve asked them. They all say “It’s an international language and it’s very important to learn”…… but many just don’t learn it.

So when I compare my Spanish to my students’ English, I’m definitely progressing faster than them!

Aisling.

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I only work 12 days each month. Sounds great no?

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Since arriving to China, I’ve worked in Universities and private language centres, and each has their advantages and disadvantages.

For the job I have now, which is in a University, all 11 foreign English teachers work only 3 days a week…. and that is a full time job here!

So 3 days a week, plus winter holidays off and summer holidays off. So it’s a ridiculously low work hour. Our salary is a little lower than say in a private language centre, but I would happily work 3 days over 5.

That is why in the University I work, there are teachers who have been here for 4+ years, and will most likely stay for the foreseeable future. Free apartment, free internet, my card is topped up every month for food at the canteen (at the moment I’ve about 75euro in my card from the University), they pay half of our electricity and water fee, they don’t care what we teach and don’t ask, and we get bonuses for this and that. So it’s seems like the perfect job, doesn’t it??!!

But we still plan to leave. There are so many benefits to this job, but I really can’t wait to leave. I know most people are like “Oh my god why are you leaving that???? You only work 3 days a week!!”.

I just feel like we are done in China, and I just can’t see myself here another year. This semester 4 classes out of 11 are very bad. The students are very lazy, have a bad attitude and I just couldn’t face that again for another year. I don’t enjoy teaching, I don’t enjoy the fact that the student’s don’t give a shit about what I say. I feel I’m not getting anything out of teaching, so although there are great benefits, I really just want to find something that I enjoy doing, if that means working 5 days a week. So be it. I think once you enjoy doing something, it won’t matter how many days you work.

And plus I don’t want to be here for another 5 years doing the exact same thing. I know we’ll never get this amount of benefits from a job again, and I’ll be grateful for the time that I worked 3 days a week and earned good money. But we all have to leave our comfort zone.

Most of the teachers here are planning on staying on to teach…. so I feel that they are going to be here forever (or until they can’t get a new visa)… but I just can’t do it. I feel like I would be stuck; unable to leave because of all the perks of the job.  It’s very tempting to stay, but I really want to move onto a new chapter in my life!

Which hopefully won’t involve teaching!

Aisling.

 

Off For The Holidays

Off For The Holidays

So I’m officially finished my first semester teaching my wonderfully lazy students. After their exams they can be lazy all they want, stay in bed all day… and will most likely not speak a word of English during that time…..until next semester that is.

For the past few weeks of the semester it’s been pretty easy for me; giving them their exam questions and they simple have to memorise the answers for their exam. I made it even easier for them because the homework each week were their actual questions, so if they bothered to keep their homework then easy peasy for them. I KNOW some of them lost quite a few though, but that’s what being responsible is. The majority of them don’t even bring a pen and paper to class, so I don’t have much hope of them keeping their homework.

So we have about 5 weeks off until the next semester starts in March… and I won’t be chuffed to start back again. I’m sure my new students wont either!

So I think tonight I’m going to have a few beers and relax….. I deserve it I think!

Aisling

Exams….. some just don’t care.

So for the past 2 weeks my students have been preparing to do a 4-5 minute role-play for me as part of their exams. The first week was to think up their idea and start writing their script. They then came in groups and they practiced in front of me and I made adjustments with their scripts in the second week. For the third week they could practice for the first 45 minutes and then do their exam.

So they had PLENTY of time to rehearse and remember their lines.

I was pretty surprised that for my classes on Monday, 3-4 groups couldn’t remember what to say!

And one was a total disaster altogether! Because their english is very low, I told them that their role-play could be 3-4 minutes long. I also put a student whose English is higher than the others in with this group so he could help them make their script and what not. So they come in and none of them know their lines. They didn’t know what they were doing, and it definitely wasn’t practiced.

It frustrates me because I gave them plenty of time and I made it easier for them because I know they would struggle. Some of these students are failing because they don’t try in class. I told them this too. So I thought that they would put a bit more effort into it and try at least. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them.

I don’t want to fail them but if they continue not caring and not putting effort into anything then I’ll be forced to. What annoys me even more is that I actually made it easier for them and they still didn’t care!

On a better side, I had one all girl group and they were really good! They were doing like a dating show and the girls with the lights had to decide if he (the girl on the far right) matched up to their expectations. The girl on the far left was the host. They had a ppt ready, props, and it was different to all the rest of the others I’ve seen so far! This group is in the class that is my favourite, so I’m happy that they tried a lot! They’ll definitely be getting a good score.

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My favourite group so far!

 

On a weirder note, I received a text message from one of my students and she asked could I give her 90% on the exam. I wasn’t sure what she was on about and replied that the exam isn’t until next week. I said “I know, but will you give me 90%?”

Ok??????? She’s a good student and her English is good but she actually has the audacity to ask for a high mark. I would never have asked my teachers any such question! It would be more like how can I improve so I could get a better mark. So I replied back “It depends on how well you do in the exam”.

Her response…”Too cruel!!!”

So apparently I’m too cruel. Huh.

Maybe she’s the cruel one because she didn’t bribe me with anything!

Aisling

Teaching Uni Students: 3 Months On

Teaching Uni Students: 3 Months On

I can’t believe I’ve just finished week 12 of teaching. In one sense it’s flying by, but then at the same time it sometimes feel like I’ve been teaching for years here. I’m already halfway through my first semester here, so I have more semester to go and then bye bye to China!

With every week that goes by I’m slowly getting more comfortable with my students. I can see that they can have a joke and a laugh with me now and it’s just a better atmosphere now in the classes. Well most of them anyway; I’ve one class and they are still like robots…. so I don’t particularly enjoy teaching them. They don’t do anything wrong… it’s just they don’t do anything at all!

They just stare…. and stare…. and stare some more…….. while the other classes laugh at some funny picture or video that I show them, they just stare.

So I’ll be pretty happy to get rid of that class next semester.

I’ll miss most of my students next semester. Every teacher will be getting new students as the Uni wants them to become more immersed with different cultures and what not. I understand in a way, but then at the same time the teachers have to start from scratch with gaining the students trust and making them comfortable with us.

I’ve sort of figured out what each student is like, which ones need more attention and which one’s English is non-existent. I’ll have to figure all that out again!

Depending on the topic and lesson I make, the students will react positively or negatively.  If they don’t like it, they just aren’t interested. So it’s difficult finding the balance of both work and play. They could happily play games all day, but I’d still like to teach them something at least!

But I feel I’m improving with my teaching style with every class. I know what they like and don’t like, and myself and my fiancé try and help each other to create and brainstorm lesson plans. Two heads are better than one!

With being set on leaving China, I’m looking forward to finishing the contract and moving on……and I’m really looking forward to it!

Aisling

Trying To Deceive Me

Trying To Deceive Me

With having to teach 10 classes with 25 students in each class, sometimes I tend to forget their faces or names. In my other University where I worked, I had one class of 80 students, so 25 is a much easier class to deal with!

I’m slowly learning each face and their names, and I can usually remember their names when I see them. Although the ones that start with ‘A’ always confuse me, you can check out why here –All The Same Names

So I called the role (everyone was present) and I started class, playing a game in the first 45 minutes and then I would start a new topic. I put them into groups and as we were going through the game, I noticed that their was a girl in one group not participating at all. The other 4 were huddled together while she was turned away from them and was writing in her notebook. So I kept looking at her and I was thinking:

“She doesn’t look like one of my students….”

“Well in that group there is Cherry, Aom……so her name must be Aimee”

“But I really don’t recognise her face???!!!”

“God I must be an awful teacher…….”

“No….. I definitely didn’t teach that girl before….. she must be new..”

“Then there should be a student missing if she is new??”

So throughout the game I kept an eye on her and after it I asked her what her name was. She was looking through the list and then she writes her name down. Aimee.

Ok… so then I ask her “Are you a new student?”

No reply. All the other classmates are talking in Chinese, aware of what is happening.

I then say “Your face looks different”.

Still no answer.

So I’m still perplexed and thinking if I was that bad of a teacher that I never recognised her face…. having taught her 11 times already.

After class ends I call my teaching assistant student Daisy and I asked her if that girl was new. She replied that she isn’t in their class and she didn’t know who she was.

I heard from other teachers here that some random student would show up for a class that they aren’t even in. The real student pays them money to attend.

I never thought it would happen to me but it just has! A general rule with the English teachers here is that if they don’t show up for 4 classes then they fail the class. That is one month of class that they missed. So this girl has already missed 2 classes, and now this one makes 3. I’m tempted to just fail her altogether; it’s bad enough not coming to class and then not bringing a note or whatever to show why, but actually going to the trouble of getting someone else to attend their class and hoping that I won’t notice; that’s just rude.

I won’t have the ‘real’ Aimee until next week, so I’m not sure what I will do when I see her. I’m tempted just to fail her. If she wants to not come to class, then she doesn’t have to come, she can fail instead. I wouldn’t mind getting rid of an ‘Aimee’ I have too many ‘Aimee’ students!

So I’ll decide what to do next week with her, that’s if she even shows up!

But this has taught me a new lesson; always make sure there are no impostors in my class!

Aisling

Film Week

Film Week

Because last week was Halloween, I decided to stick on the film ‘Goosebumps’ for my students to watch. I remember seeing it a while back and thinking it was fun and exciting, so I was pretty confident that my students would enjoy it. Aside from the beginning, there is always something exciting happening throughout, so I thought this film would engage the students. And thankfully they all enjoyed it!

We were able to download it with English subtitles and Chinese, so even the one’s with non-existent English can watch it.

Because my classes are 90 minutes long, I spent two weeks watching the film with them. The University doesn’t condone watching a movie for the whole lesson, I split it into two weeks. After they watched the film, I made up a quiz about it and we did that for the next 45 minutes. Some of the questions were easy and some of them were just a little more difficult. Overall I think they enjoyed it and the quiz. For the group who got the most points, they would not get any homework next week, so that was a bit of incentive for them to try! (Although some were still lazy and didn’t bother at all during the quiz)

Plus, having a movie week makes my life much easier teaching wise. It’s hard to teach when I know a lot of them don’t care what I say or show them, so sometimes I do get quite annoyed. Why should I try when they don’t try? But I suppose I can just carry on with what I’m doing and it’s up to them if they either want to pass or fail the class.

Other teachers here have also expressed their feeling about their students, so sometimes we have a big rant about our students and how lazy they are. But at least I’m not the only one that feels this way. I feel like I’m a bad teacher and my lesson’s aren’t interesting enough, so when I hear other teachers saying the exact same thing as me, then I feel a bit better at least! Or we’re all bad teachers!

I know some teachers just play games with them, but to me, I’m a teacher. I’m supposed to teach them things that they will remember. That’s what I think anyway!

This is my 9th week teaching and sometimes it really does feel like I’ve been here for years and years already. And I feel I haven’t taught them anything in those 9 weeks. When I was teaching in a private company, you could see the improvement of each of my students, and that gave me a lot of gratification. Here though, I feel that everything I say goes in one ear and out the other.

I don’t think I’ve seen 1 student take any notes of what I was talking about in class. I’ve told them before to take notes, but it’s like talking to rocks. I should keep at them but at the end of the day they aren’t children; they are 17 and 18 year olds. They should know by now.

But yeah, the two weeks watching the film and doing the quiz is a great relaxing class for both me and the students.

I hate to wonder what they will be like when film week is over and proper class starts again….?

Maybe I’ll stick on another film….. and definitely be a bad teacher!

Aisling