Saying Goodbye To My Students

Having just finished my last day of work, I’ve sadly had to say goodbye to all of my students. I’ve been extremely lucky… most of my students were great. 1 boy was a bit of a pain, but I honestly never dreaded having to go in and teach a class. I know there are a lot of teachers in my campus with some horror students!

So because I had lovely students, that’s more of a reason why I’ll miss them! Also having to lie that ‘I’m leaving in a few weeks’ makes me feel bad. But if I stayed, I would have had to say goodbye to them in a few months time anyway though.

It was tough saying goodbye to the oldest student I had. When I moved to another campus, she moved with me. So I’ve had her for about 3 years I think. (She’s the one that calls me fat), but apart from that she was a brilliant and kind student!

After my last class her Mum and Dad came in, gave me a Prada gift of a small purse (Prada no less!) and we said our goodbyes. (I gave her a card but I felt bad that they gave me a quite expensive gift) I also got a picture of me and her together which is nice to keep! I think the whole family was sad about me leaving… but I know the teacher that will take over is super nice and I know my student will be fine with her.

She even shocked me when she sent me this:

Unfortunately my reading of handwritten characters isn’t the best so I need a Chinese person to help me translate some of it, but I’m so happy that she took the time and energy to write this for me. It’s so great to know that she enjoyed having class with me and that she felt comfortable with me.

It’s nice that you build this relationship with your students. I only had her once a week, but in that hour you do build a bond and relationship. She (and all my other students) knew they could joke in class and have a laugh with me. Once we just get a bit of work done as well!

Another one of my students who is 14years old also gave me a keyring! She is super nice. Her Mum and Dad said that their daughter liked me a lot and will miss me. I also got a photo with her and the Mum. It’s nice to hear these things… that I’ve had an impact on their lives, no matter how small it was!

It’s such a pity though that I had to leave them because of the company. I loved all my students and they definitely weren’t the reasons why I left. It really is a shame.

I remember when I finished my internship at the University that I taught at… I wondered will I ever see any of my students again. Unfortunately I haven’t seen any since. But I often wonder what they are doing or where they are. Maybe I pass them on the street all the time and I don’t even know it!

Thankfully I’ve gotten some of my students wechat number (sort of like whats app) so we can communicate by that. Some also said they would love to visit me in Ireland! That would be nice!

But anyway, I’ll miss them all. But at the end of the day I’d have to leave them one day…. just thought I would have them just a little bit longer…




The Way I Speak

Since moving away from home, teaching English and meeting my boyfriend… I have found out words and phrases that I’ve commonly used back home have slowly been disappearing….and instead, I’ve began to think in a more ‘American’ way.

First of all, the books that I teach my students with are full of American words like ‘trash can’. Then my boyfriend has also learned American English.  So these are both influences.

There are tonnes of words and phrases that people in Ireland use quite regularly, like ‘grand’ ‘shite’ ‘Mam instead of Mum/Mom, the phrase ‘I’m after (doing something)’. ‘Giving out (to someone)’ We also say ‘yous’ instead of ‘you all’.

Of course my students will definitely not understand me if I say any of these!

What’s worse is when I am with my boyfriend I start thinking American English. For us ‘pavement/ footpath’ is ‘sidewalk’… so in my head, when I see someone walking on the street, now I automatically think ‘Oh they should be walking on the sidewalk!’

Then I think ‘Oh no… FOOTPATH!! I MEANT FOOTPATH!’

Instead of saying ‘crisps’ for things like Lays…I sometimes say ‘chips’.

And during teaching, I’ve given up saying the word ‘sweets’ and just say ‘candy’ now… they don’t know the meaning of ‘sweets’, and they always forget when I tell them anyway.

And actually, the same goes for my boyfriend now!

Because we spend a lot of time together and he listens to me everyday….. he sometimes has blurted out ‘Mam’ instead of ‘Mom’, ‘tree’ instead of ‘three’ and now he is saying ‘crisps’ instead of ‘chips’!!

I’ve also noticed some phrases that I commonly use which he has picked up on… like ‘Did yeh?’ I’ve also think that he has lost some of the American pronunciation of some words like ‘matter’.

It’s strange how it all works!

For me, I suppose my speaking is changing because firstly, I don’t meet any other Irish people, so I’m not continuously hearing my own native accent. Second, I’m constantly aware of my voice and if for example I say in my native accent ‘brown’.. my students won’t understand me… so I have to change how I say some words so they understand.

Lastly, my boyfriend speaks American English, so I’ve become used to hearing certain words more than others from him.

haha whats worse though is that I feel my English speaking has gotten worse. I forget certain words in English and some of my grammar gets mixed up. I don’t know why.. but I think it’s to do with the fact that I am constantly listening to non-natives speaking grammatically wrong English… maybe some of that bad English gets stuck in my head!! Also there are words in English that I rarely use anymore. In Ireland I would hear them more often so I would remember them. But here… at work I hear the same English spoken over and over again.

Well, I HOPE those reasons are true… or else I have no idea why my English is getting worse.

It’s funny how your accent changes with different environments and who you are with. I just hope that when the time comes to head home to Ireland, my Irish words and phrases will come flooding back to me!



Adding More Classes

Because I’ve moved from my old campus to my current one, I’ve had to leave my students behind. Apart from one, she decided to follow me to my new campus which I’m very happy about. I love teaching her and she enjoys learning English.

But because I’ve left my other students behind, that meant that on a Saturday I’ve only had my one student. It was definitely an easy day, but at the same time it’s a bit of a waste going just for a 1 hour class.

So last Saturday I was teaching a girl who I was covering from another teacher. Her English is brilliant, and because she is a teen, it’s a class where we can chat about different topics which makes the class interesting. So I finished teaching her, then my PA told me that I would continue to teach her every Saturday.  Then I hear that another teen girl wants to do a demo after my last class. So I did the demo with her, also with the parents in the room observing ( I hate when the parents are in the demo).. but they seemed happy with the class and so I have her from next Saturday too.

So from next Saturday on I will have 2.5 extra hours of class which is great. 3.5 in all. Just yesterday I was worrying about my money situation; being a part time teacher isn’t at all ideal when you plan on travelling during the summer, and thinking of moving, oh and paying rent and fees.  So I’ve been having problems getting classes because they first need to give them to the full time teachers, then when their schedules are full… it’s my turn. So those extra 2 classes are a godsend.

At the moment I love all my classes, my youngest is 7 years.. and my oldest is now 14. The good thing about being part time is that you can choose what students to teach… if my PA’s say ‘Oh Aisling, we have a very cute little girl who I think you could teach….she is extremely cute!’

First of all, I’m not going to teach a girl just because she is cute…. PA’s think that this a real selling point to teachers; a really cute girl. But it really isn’t. Yeah she could be the most cutest Chinese girl I’ve even seen, but if she is a nuisance in class… then you really just have a cute girl that is extremely hard to teach.. and you dread teaching this girl every week.

So when they offer me this I always ask ‘What age is she?’ …’Oh she is 4 years old’ I can now happily reply ‘No thanks, I don’t want to teach young students’… without feeling bad about it.

However when I was full time, I had quite a few bad classes. . Oh I remember in dread… I often wonder how I managed teaching some students. I think it was because I was sort of new to the whole teaching and I just put up with them… so at the moment I’m much happier teaching the students I have.

If we leave Chengdu we will most likely have to move back to full time teaching so we can earn more money, which sort of annoys me. I’ll no longer be able to use the ‘No’ word anymore.

Oh no.




3rd Semester Studying

3rd Semester Studying

Today was our first day back in University again, which I am very happy about! It has been over 2 months since finishing our 2nd semester, and I had definitely become bored!

Although I did try and meet up with my Chinese friend in order to give me private lessons, I didn’t go nearly enough during that free time… but I will try and make more of an effort now that I am back studying full time.

Like the previous 2 semesters, we have again changed classrooms, meaning we are now in one of the biggest classrooms of the foreign teaching building! Unfortunately we still have one person that has followed us from level 1 that we don’t particularly like. Let’s just say, he has professed his love to our previous teacher one too many times (he’s in his 40’s)….. plus he doesn’t really make the effort in class that much.

Another person who has joined us today is another male student who I know I wouldn’t really enjoy being around either. . . I know I shouldn’t judge him just on one day, but I’ve heard other people mention this guy too. But anyway, the only person I should be caring about is myself.

Our first two classes are reading and teaching us the grammar, and our teacher spoke, at most 10 English words throughout that time. Compared to last semester, our teachers spoke more English than Chinese! So this is a big welcome! I definitely need to concentrate in class more now.

Our listening and speaking teacher seems very nice also. We had to each talk about our winter holidays and where we went, what we did and so on. Getting everyone to speak kind of tells you what sort of Chinese everyone has, and I’m sure thats why the teachers get us to speak, so they know the average level of everyone.

Plus, this semester, we have no pinyin! So the conversations in our book are all in Chinese characters, so this jump will increase our reading capability and fluency.

Although having to wake up much earlier than usual, I know in a few days my body will suddenly become tired! But I’m glad to get back into our studying routine again.



Why I wouldn’t like to grow up in China.

Chinese students during an exam.. outside!

Chinese students during an exam.. outside!

From my teaching of students with rather well off parents, I’ve come to notice that many of my students either are learning to play an instrument, going to dance classes, gymnastics classes, and of course joining me for English class.

When I ask my students ‘what did you do last week?’ Most, if not all of them say ‘homework’. They receive tonnes of homework from their teachers. I ask my students do you play an instrument, most of them say yes, and it’s usually the piano.

Because they’re like what, 1.4 billion people in China? The amount of competition between them must be fierce. From a young age they need to drum the Chinese phonics and characters into them, writing and writing the same characters for homework. This is when they are like 6 years old. Add to the fact that the Chinese are notorious at being good at Maths. Same as Mandarin, having started studying at a very young age.

Aside from school, the parents send them off to learn something else like English or learning an instrument. With English though, I have to admit it is good to teach their child another language like English.

I think, for Chinese parents, their mind set is; get your child to excel at all these things, then they will have a better chance at having a prosperous life when they are older. I completely understand this; you have to stand out in China. But at the same time, every time I look at a child here, I think ‘I wouldn’t like to be in your shoes, you don’t realise how hard growing up for you will be.’

When they are teens, they have countless exams, pages of homework, and such a big pressure to do well in school. Get good results in English so they can study abroad. In China, you can’t just be average, you can’t just ‘do your best’. You need to excel at everything, or else you’re not going to get anywhere in life, well, in China anyway.

One of my teenagers told me that she has to do a physical examination so she can go into the next year. I was shocked! I asked her what she has to do; running, jumping, push-ups, ab toning and more. Apparently the government wants them to be healthy, but come on?? An exam on your fitness?? She said she has been practicing her push-ups and ab excursuses every night, 50 times…. her exam is next year. To me this is mad.

Ha, and the thing is, no one in China is overweight!

So these are the reasons why I wouldn’t like to grow up in China. To be honest I was average at school, meaning I would have been literally stressed to the max if I’d have lived in China.

I’m quite happy I grew up in Ireland!