Preparing For Exams

For this semester of teaching, I decided I was going to give my students one main speaking exam at the end of the semester. However I then thought that I would give them one now and then another one at the end. For their first exam, they would have to present a 4-5 minute role-play with a beginning, middle and end to it. This would be worth 15%.

I’ve students and their English is very very bad so I’ve told them they can present theirs for about 3 minutes.

Throughout the few weeks that I’ve been teaching them, I’ve given them quite a few role-plays to do already, so this shouldn’t be new to them! Role-plays are really just to get them to be creative and try and use English in a real life situation. Some don’t particularly enjoy them (they would be quite happy sleeping/playing on their phones) but some really do try their best.

So during the previous week I was helping each group think of ideas and characters they could use. I had one group say “Our role-play will be a group of friends meeting up, we will introduce ourselves”.

Ok….. sounds a bit boring to be honest. Also not very creative. So I advised them to change their idea.

Another group had in mind about doing a role-play of one person getting food poisoning in a restaurant. So I said ” Make it more exciting, maybe Mandy will get sick and you will have to bring her to the doctor and then she dies suddenly!?”

“WWHHOOOAAAHHH” they all exclaim! To me, that just came naturally…. how do you make it more creative??? Have someone violently die obviously.

But for them, they really wouldn’t have thought of doing that. They lack a lot of creativity these kids, so doing something like a role-play is very daunting for them. That’s why I want to teach them to be more creative. Yeah some of them are very intelligent, but making up a story by themselves; that’s difficult.

So I’ll see what type of role-plays they present to me next week. Hopefully there won’t be one about introducing themselves……..yawn.

Aisling.

Advertisements
All The Blank Faces

All The Blank Faces

I’ve been teaching in my current job 4 weeks now, and generally it’s going ok. This can’t be said for some of my students though! I’ve said it once, and I’m going to keep saying it until I finish working here; but sometimes it feels like I’m teaching rocks.

Honestly, it’s like trying to get blood out of a stone with some of these kids. With the exception of two great classes, most of the time when I’m teaching, all I see is a wall of blank, emotionless faces.

It’s pretty hard to get my students motivated to do anything.

“OK STUDENTS, WHICHEVER TEAM WINS THIS GAME WILL GET NO HOMEWORK!!!”

Nothing…..

No excitement whatsoever occurs. Faces are still blank.

They must really enjoy homework if that’s the case!

So yeah, some students just are very unmotivated to participate in class.

Unlike the rest of the world, Chinese students aren’t encouraged to think creatively and outside the box. They are made to remember large volumes of texts and that’s it. So when I get them to do an activity that needs them to think individually and be creative; a lot of them just can’t do it.

‘wo bu hui….wo bu hui” 我不会。 They keep repeating to me “I can’t do it”. I say to them “You can do it! You just need to think about it more”.

For this particular task, we were studying personality words like timid, hard working….. After learning the words, I asked a few students to come up to the top of the class where i would give them a word and they have to act it out. They cannot speak, so they have to use their bodies to explain their word. Then the other students need to guess what word they have.

Easy peasy. They don’t even have to speak! Wrong. Most of them couldn’t do it. Give them an easy one ‘funny’. In my mind for this one, you simply pretend to laugh. But for them, they are getting nervous just thinking about how to do it. They are thinking and thinking about how to do it, until they ask for another one.

“Another one?? How will you do the others  when you can’t even do funny??”

So that activity was too difficult for them. I explained to them that you need to be more creative in class. In my class, speaking is key, but in order to speak they need to be able to think of things to say.

Then there are students that can’t speak whatsoever. ‘Hello” is the most they can say. It’s difficult trying to teach students with such a different level in each class, so I’m trying to teach basic English, more advanced English, plus for the students to be more creative in class.

But anyway, I don’t really expect to teach the students much English. Their English is just too basic, and a lot of them aren’t interested in learning it. All I care about is them trying in class. I told them “I don’t mind if your English is wrong, just try. That’s all I want. Even if you say one sentence… that’s great. You tried”. Thing is, many don’t want to try.

So when I’m trying my hardest to engage the students and all I see is a wall of emotionless faces, it really demotivates me to try and teach them. I try very hard to get them interested and they just stare up at me. Sometimes I feel I need to be a comedian in order to get anything out of them!

I have two classes and they are great, so I don’t mind teaching those. They are a little older and they generally seem more interested. So those classes are great. But overall, I really don’t think I could stay another year here trying to teach robots.

再见

爱玲 Aisling

 

Everything Is Up In The Air

Since coming back from holidays, it seems like everything is up in the air at the moment. With thinking about weddings and everything that that entails, visa worries, home issues, money problems, both of us thinking about courses to do… agghh, it seems it’s all getting too much!

Thankfully, at least we have put our moving apartment on hold. We really didn’t want to worry about where to live. I’m pretty glad we decided not to move. It was just another added pressure that we didn’t need at the moment. Of course I’m still going to grumble about our crap sofa, the increase of rent, oh and no door to our bedroom…. but apart from those issues I really don’t mind staying a little while longer. We’ll just try harder not to hoard any more things.

Work on the other hand has really started to annoy me… to the point of wanting to quit. I love my students and their parents, but I really just don’t want to work for the company anymore. I don’t agree on their changes, and one thing that has really annoyed me is that they have changed which books they use for teaching.

I hate the new books that we are now forced to use. The content is bad, the layout is even worse…. in one section the students learn how to make a fruit kebab…. really??? Are the parents really going to be happy with me spending 20 minutes teaching them how to stick fruit onto a stick??? If I was a parent, I definitely wouldn’t want my child learning this. Fair enough if it’s a public school and the parents don’t pay much money, yeah I understand…it would be a fun activity. But they fork out tonnes of money for us to teach their child English that they need for their future…. I really don’t want to be wasting my class time teaching them such a useless activity.

After 3+ years of teaching, I’d like to say that I’m a good teacher. I think out of my time with the company, only 1 parent complained; and that was when I just started working there. I’d like to say my students like me and enjoy the class! I hope anyway!

So anyway, with the old books we were using, the students learned quickly and they were clear and concise. Now with these new ones, I really feel like I’m not teaching my students anything. And that’s what annoys me; I know I can teach them well IF I have good, available resources that I can use. If not, I can try and teach them as well as I can, but if the books’ contents aren’t good and are not well laid out, well, it’s just that much harder.  Plus the class will be slower.

Aw so I’m in a pickle of what to do. I really do need the money though. I can’t exactly live in China and not work… how so many people do it here I have no idea!

So theres one problem of many! But hopefully everything will sort itself out in the end. At least my visa isn’t connected to my company so I can leave whenever I want. I’m not tied to them.

You know what….I think the best thing to do is just run away back to El Nido and forget about all the worries! Yeah, that’s the best plan!

再见

爱玲

How Did My 2016 Resolutions Turn Out?

How Did My 2016 Resolutions Turn Out?

Scrolling down through my posts, I came across my New Years Resolutions for 2016; My (few) New Years resolutions. I had totally forgot that I had posted resolutions for myself (which isn’t a good sign), so I thought I’d update on which ones I unconsciously achieved, and some which I have not!

1.Study More Chinese.

Well I think I’ve done this unconsciously; I’ve attended another 2 semesters of Chinese learning since then. Plus I’ve read a few Chinese books, I’ve watched one Chinese movie (I know I know… 1 isn’t that good). But I have started watching a Chinese TV series called ‘虎妈猫爸’ or ‘Tiger Mum’ in English. There’s quite a lot that I don’t understand but I get the gist of each episode and the storyline. So my listening should be improving because of this. Finally my speaking; well because I’m an introvert. . . I’m not the chattiest of people even when I speak to people in my native language, never mind in Chinese! So that’s still a hurdle I need to address. But I think I achieved this resolution.

2. Do the HSK 3 exam.

Unfortunately I didn’t do this… but I did buy a book for practising! So I did have some good intentions to do it. To be honest I don’t really know how I sign up for it, and apparently you can do it in the comfort of your own home! I did not know this! I will do it one day… I might even attempt the HSK 4! haha well we’ll see!

3. Do more exercise.

Having come back from Ireland after Christmas and gaining a lot of weight, myself and my boyfriend started to do more exercise… then grew lazy as we all do. Thankfully I’ve bought a new bike so I now cycle to work and school. I’m still not as slim as before but at least I’m doing a bit more exercise. I’d have preferred to do even more exercise so I’ll put this one as half succeeded.

4. Travel more around China.

Having never left China during this year, I’ve travelled more around the country. My favourite is definitely Xiamen, I really loved the city. But I also enjoyed going to Kangding and Garze and experiencing the Tibetan way of life. I loved going to Yangshuo and seeing the famous mountains, then to Longsheng and walking in and among the rice terraces. Those a few of the places I’ve been to this year. So I’ve achieved that resolution.

5. Last but not least, be happier.

Mmm… this is  a tricky one. I hate to admit it but I’m a pessimist… instead of thinking of what could go right.. I’m constantly thinking of what could go wrong. And I’m also a worrier.. about EVERYTHING.  I really drain myself! I wish I could be a happier person… but I just naturally end up worrying and stressing over money, work, Chinese, finding a good job, missing my family loads… thinking about life after China… so obviously this makes me much less happy. I’m afraid that I’m going to live out the rest of my life not being happy; because I didn’t do this, I couldn’t do that.. I did that wrong.  So I suppose with this resolution I’ll say I half achieved it.

Now I must make my Resolutions for 2017!

再见

爱玲

Teaching My Chinese Students: An Update

Teaching My Chinese Students: An Update

Because teaching here in China has now become ‘normal’ and well, not terribly exciting, I’ve kind of neglected to write more posts about it. But I’ll write an update about how it’s going.

At the moment I have about 10 groups who I teach. Although when I go back full time It will increase. Thankfully, everyone (apart from one group) are fantastic. My youngest are aged about 6/7 I think, while my oldest is 14. My youngest are learning phonics, so for me it’s quite an easy class, plus for them they enjoy it because they don’t have to actually learn English vocab and grammar, just how to say the words.

I’ve had one student for over 2 years now I think, and she moved with me to my new campus from my old one. Her English has improved really quickly! From 2 years ago to now I really do notice her improvement. Now I’m not saying that’s all because of me… but she’s the student I’ve had the longest, so I see the most improvement in her. She’s the one that keeps calling me ‘fat’ (huh and she’s the one that talks about food in class all the time) but overall she is a great student.

My not so great group is with two boys. The two boys that I used to have got split up, so now I teach them separately, but now the oldest boy has been paired with another boy…. and unfortunately the group isn’t so good anymore.

Now my old student ‘S’ has become much more disobedient! It really annoys me because I know that his behaviour used to be good, and I enjoyed teaching him and the other student. But since ‘T’ has joined, he has affected ‘S’s behaviour in class. It’s such a pity, because I know ‘S’ is a good student; I’ve seen it. But unfortunately this other boy is effectively ruining his learning in class.

If it continues I think I might tell ‘S’ that his behaviour isn’t good anymore… shame him a bit about this fact. I know he’s a good boy underneath it all.

But anyway, I’ve recently had a 21 year old studying with me for a few weeks. She is not resigning so I only have her a few more times. She is studying to do an English test, but the way it’s going, I don’t think she will pass. Her vocabulary just isn’t good enough, plus I feel like she isn’t very motivated. haha I can say the same for myself with Chinese sometimes!

In my opinion, it’s a shame that she isn’t resigning again, she really needs extra English classes to improve. I really can’t see her studying by herself.

But she is a nice and friendly student though, and I enjoy teaching her.

Company wise, it definitely need more improvements. Especially with Chinese PA’s… they are dropping like flies in our campus. The PA that has been with us the longest has just left as she hated her job, so I’m pretty sure every other PA has only been with us for a few months.

It’s coming to the stage where I don’t even try and remember their names, as most likely they will leave soon enough. It’s pretty sad though; the company treats teachers with good pay, holidays and two days off a week, whereas PA’s aren’t paid a lot, they only get 1 day off a week, and they have to put up with a lot of crap from parents AND from teachers complaining. So I’m really not surprised that so many quit.

Unless all the PA’s decide to revolt and protest, I don’t think much will change, especially if they don’t want to ‘lose face’, a strange Chinese phenomenon.

If you have never heard of this, have a look at the link below for some information about it!

‘Losing Face’ in China

再见

爱玲

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!

再见

爱玲

Working, Studying & Living: Sorting It Out

For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing what to do with our lives for the next year… and finally we’ve come up with a plan.

Working: Because I’m making hardly any money at the moment… although I do love the free time that I have, I’ve resorted having to go back to full time, well 15 working hours a week. This in my company is ‘full-time’.  I’ve managed to keep only working 3 days a week which is just great. I will dread the day when I have to work 7 hours 5 days a week. I’m really being spoilt here.

So working full time means I will be guaranteed my wage every month, whereas right now I’m paid by the amount of hours I teach.. so during the summer time I hardly get paid anything because students go on holidays.

Studying: We’ve also decided that this semester will be our last in our current Uni. I’ve really grown fond of it, plus I enjoy classroom based teaching. But every semester we are finding it harder and harder to get up in the morning. And at the end of the day I still have to pay 1 year tuition. We will miss everyone that we have met, even my teachers. All of them are so nice.

Instead of learning at the Uni, I will continue going to my private lessons in a private language school. It’s only 15 minutes walk from my apartment so it’s very convenient.

And as for Living: Unfortunately due to the enormous cost of rent in Xiamen, we decided to stay in Chengdu. It’s just too expensive. I really love the place, but I don’t want to be worrying about bills and rent just because I want to live somewhere sunny and pretty. I’d rather save my money and go travelling. Instead, when our apartment contract is finished, we will look at some apartments in the community that we already live in. We like where we live and we don’t want to have to lug our things miles away. Because we are going to be earning more, we want to upgrade to a bigger apartment… haha we might even get a balcony, and even a door for our bedroom!!

So right now, we are sorting out my boyfriends Mum and Dad’s visa to come to visit here, let our company know that in December I will be able to teach more students (they will surely be delighted with this), and begin to sort out the dreaded work visa for next year.

Every foreigner in Chengdu dreads that time of year when their visa expires. Enrolling in Uni is the easiest way to get one… but because we will be getting a work visa, we will need to go to Hong Kong on a ‘visa run’ as people say, plus we will get a medical certificate done.

I’m not too fond of going to Hong Kong. It’s expensive and crowded. However maybe this time round it might be different with my boyfriend being with me.

I hate having to sort visa stuff out. The people working there are not at all friendly and they can deny you a visa without giving any explanation whatsoever. Plus if you don’t have 1 piece of paper, that’s it: go home and come back when you get it. Oh and they need like 10 photocopies of every piece of paper you have. Oh they are very picky!

So, we’ve managed to sort out our plan for next year…. ha I won’t think too much ahead just right now or I’ll panic again!

再见!

爱玲