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

 

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Why are you always looking at me?

Why are you always looking at me?

The longer I have lived in China, I’ve noticed that less and less Chinese people stare at me here. When I first arrived, everyone on the subway would gawk at me, some might even take photos! Now however, with the influx of more foreigners, this (thankfully) is disappearing!

But not completely!

So yesterday, myself and my fiancé decided to go to Walmart to pick up some things for home. We were looking at some flasks and I turn and see a worker down the bottom of the aisle looking at me. So anyway, I continue browsing.

I look around and he’s still there. Staring.

So I say to my fiancé “That worker over there keeps looking at me, we’ll go to the next aisle and see if he follows”.

We go to the next aisle and low and behold he appears!

I’m getting a bit annoyed at this stage. So back I go to the flask section, waiting to see the worker.

What a surprise, he appears again….but this time at the other end of the aisle.

That’s it, I decide to walk over to him. At this point he’s looking at me while talking to another lady, but I don’t care. I go up to him and ask him in Chinese “Why are you always looking at me?”… He replies he’s not. Haha the face of him when he realised this foreigner was coming over to him!

I think he was shocked that I actually confronted him. But it worked! I didn’t see him lurking around again!  haha well maybe he was but did it with a bit more stealth this time! When someone is standing right in the middle of the aisle gawking at you, it’s not very conspicuous!

For me, it drives me mad when people do this. I just want to go and browse… and not have someone staring at me thinking I’m going to steal something. I hate that feeling. I’m not going to take anything. Just leave me alone and let me shop.

Did he think I was going to steal something? Was he just curious at what I was looking at? Was he just looking at me?? Do I even look like a thief????

Usually this sort of thing doesn’t really bother me, but when someone is constantly staring at me and making me feel like I’m doing something wrong, then that needs to stop. If he thought I was stealing, then keep an eye on me through the security cameras. Just don’t make it obvious!

That’s why I never go to markets here; every time I pick up something I feel as if the worker is thinking “Oh… oh she’s going to steal that!!!” Haha plus they would most likely rip me off with their hiked up price.

So anyway, that was my shopping experience in Walmart. Usually there’s no problem, but maybe yesterday I looked more a thief than other days!

Check out my other (not so nice) Walmart (yes, the same Walmart) experience here: Skipping The Queue = One Angry Irish Girl

再见

爱玲

The Unorganised Chinese Company

I swear to god, some Chinese companies/ institutions can be so so so unorganised!!

And I’m definitely not the only person to point this out.

Especially when it comes to visas; they need to be on the ball with this. We are trying to sort out visas at the moment and I tell you, they certainly don’t rush…but they make you have a nervous breakdown!

Having gathered some things for our visas, we were pretty confident that we had everything… everything seemed to be going smoothly and with no problem. Then they say ‘Oh you need to get this notarised.’

What?? Why the hell did you not say this to us from the start??? And typical; the one thing that needs to be done early because it needs to be sent to Beijing…. it’s this that they fail to mention to us!

It’s just so annoying when they could have told us this a week ago. We leave China in about 15 days. God knows what will happen if this document doesn’t arrive back in time.

From the get-go we have been making sure to get all the things we needed to get done done. It’s just frustrating that people don’t seem to care/notice about these important issues, and it will inevitably be myself and my fiancé who will suffer for their negligence.

What’s more, we have to do all this ourselves. No one from their side will come and help us. We have to get this document, that document, do this, do that. I thought we would be getting a bit of help from them… but apparently not.

So myself and my fiancé are a bit annoyed at the whole thing now. I swear…. if they tell us we need to do/get another thing then I’m going to go mad!

I hope everything will sort itself out…. I don’t want any more grey hairs!

再见

爱玲

Everything Is Stressing Me Out

I’m beginning to become so so annoyed at China and everything it has to do with it. Nothing seems to be going to plan…. our uni may not let us transfer our semesters to someone else; all we need to do is for the person to give us the money instead of to the school. That’s the only difference. Because the Uni already has our money, the person taking over our semester just gives us their money instead.

I have no idea why, because at first they said that once we could find someone that would be willing, no problem. But now we find out that maybe that’s not possible. I’m just so angry. I really don’t want to lose out on about 700euro. Plus I’m stuck here with no job and with stupid neighbours.

And that’s another thing that is driving me mad: our neighbours.

A few months ago we had to deal with the neighbours below us listening to the tv until 1am. I had to go down to them twice and tell them to lower the volume. The second time they didn’t even bother to answer the door to me, just talked through it.

NOW, we have the upstairs neighbour at it. Plus, from about 2pm to 5:30pm, they have 3 people drilling into their floor with machines… so we can barely hear ourselves during this time.

Then, last night they had their tv on so loud that I had to put the volume on my laptop to the highest… and I could STILL hear them.

I’m just so fed up; people have no respect or regards for their neighbours.

Then my company where I used to work still hasn’t replied back to me about giving me a recommendation letter, yet they want us to go in and sign some forms for something. I’ve worked with them for 3 years yet they don’t have the decency to write back to me. They can’t be bothered about why I left and what were the problems. Nope… no ‘Oh I’m very sorry Aisling that you feel this way… maybe if you’d like you can come to the main office and we can discuss what made you feel you had to leave.’

Nada. No email whatsoever about actually caring.

And when I do go and meet the to fill those things in, I’m going to tell them how I feel. They can’t treat their employees that way. All the things I did for them; having loads of resigns, happy students, I wasn’t a hard teacher to work with, actually doing my job while others did nothing-lost students but still got paid a huge amount for being a crap teacher… yet that apparently means nothing to them.

I’m just in a ranting mood today. All our plans are slowly being unravelled, and I have no idea how everything will pan out.

I love China.. don’t get me wrong. But my heart was set on leaving in the summer. I just want to leave now.

And we might be stuck here for another 8/9 months.

I’m just stressed out. I hope everything sorts itself out. And these neighbours quiet down. Or I’ll have to make a trip upstairs next time!

再见

爱玲

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

Wanting To Leave

For the past few weeks I’ve had this nagging feeling of just wanting to leave. Get away from China, leave work, leave school, not have to deal with everything ‘China’ and just go back home to my family… drink tea and be surrounded by Irish people.

A few things have made me feel like this. The first one is definitely the weather. Right now the PM2.5 in Chengdu is apparently 500. I’m just so fed up of this pollution. We’re stuck in all day with our air purifier on full blast afraid to go outside because it’s so bad. You wake up and it’s smoggy and dull… then that’s it for the whole day. The next day, wake up and it’s smoggy and dull. Everyday is the exact same…slowly killing us if we venture outside. I’m perplexed at how people can have babies and raise them in this horrific weather. Just throw a mask on them and they are good to go. I’d never put my child through that.

I don’t think we’ve seen the sun for the past 2 weeks.

img_0040

You want to die faster? Come to Chengdu!

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It’s only Hazardous

 

So yeah, that’s one reason why I just want to get up and go.

The next is with the company I work for. I’ve only signed a full time contract in December, then all of a sudden they tell us ‘Oh we are starting a new thing; the classes are only going to be 40 minutes or 80 minutes long and we are going to group students as 1-1 groups or 4-1 groups. No 2 or 3 group students.

So that means for me, I’ll have 4 students in a class or just me and 1 student, and no 1 hour classes. Because they will be 40 minutes long I’ll have to add more classes to fill my hours. 40 minutes, what the hell are you going to get done for 40 minutes??!!You can just about get something done for 45.

Then, they are going to increase the price for 1-1 groups, apparently by a lot of money, so this will make the parents choose 4-1 classes.

When I first started working with the company it was good to work for. Their motto was ‘We are like a family’… and it did feel like that for a while. Then they started getting greedy…

‘Oh we need MORE campuses!!’

‘We need to infiltrate EVERY city in China!’

‘We need MORE students!!’

‘We need to be the BEST IN CHINA!!’

‘We need MONEY MONEY MONEY!!!!’

So the company is getting bigger and bigger and wanting more and more money.. and ultimately they are loosing sight on the most important thing; giving good education to their students.

Now, the parents will get angry because we’re not teaching them enough in the time given, they won’t learn as quickly because they have to contend with another 3 students in their class, and finally because they are being forced to pay a lot more money.

I really love teaching my students, and all of their parents are lovely, but I really do feel sorry for them having to put up with all these changes. I know my students parents are well off (if they can afford to pay such high prices for the courses) but still, if they pay such a high price, then they need to get a good deal with it.

I’m just so annoyed at the fact that the company can change all this and just expect us teachers to put up with it. It’s us and our PA’s that will get the brunt of the parents anger, simply because we won’t be able to teach their children as well as before.

Also, us teachers have no input whatsoever in their activities. We have a Teacher Manager and if we have any troubles or worries we can tell them and then they tell the people higher up. The managers can give their input about what is working and what’s not working, but at the end of the day, the company doesn’t listen to any of it. My manager told me that she told the company that this new change won’t work and that they don’t support it… but of course they didn’t listen to it and they are still going ahead.

And the thing is, I still have another 11 months of work left. I’m annoyed that no one told me this was going to happen until after I signed my contract!

My campus also wants me to add an extra teaching day because I won’t be able to reach my hours teaching 3 days… You know I’d love to say to them ‘I don’t like these new changes that I didn’t even know about, you expect us to teach just 40 minutes of class, with a group of 4 students and still manage to somehow maintain the same level of teaching… and you are ripping off all the parents here… so I quit’.

The only reason why we decided to stay another year was to keep learning Chinese and so I could work more and earn more money so we can travel and that. I was happy with the way things were at work and I didn’t mind taking on more students. Now I’m just annoyed at them and I don’t want to work for them anymore.

Aghh but I’ll see how things go in the next few weeks. Maybe all these changes won’t happen. But I know there are going to be a lot of angry teachers and parents if it does.

再见

爱玲

Being Conned By A Taxi Man

Being Conned By A Taxi Man

I have been quite lucky in the fact that I haven’t been scammed; you hear in Beijing about people being scammed when they meet a student looking to ‘practice their English with you’ and you both go to a teahouse to drink tea. Then suddenly the bill comes and the tea is at an extortionate price. Obviously the ‘student’ and the teahouse are in this together, and they force the foreigner to pay.

This is quite a well known scam that most people going to Beijing should have heard about. But in Chengdu, I’ve never encountered a scam….

That was until 2 weeks ago…

When my boyfriends parents were here, we decided to go for some Beijing Duck. It’s a little far from our place, so we decided to hail a taxi to get there; costing 20元. About 4/5euro.

After our meal, we caught another taxi and away home we went. Every taxi has a meter, and usually it begins at 8元 and continues from that price.. I think it is based on every kilometre you drive… and it increases by 1yuan.

So naturally we presumed it would be around the 20元 mark. As we were driving, I happened to look at the metre…… 30元!!??

We were still not home… but it was already at this high price! I kept looking at it and the metre suddenly jumped another 2 yuan in a matter of 10 seconds.

‘That’s definitely not right’ I thought. It’s broken.

Then, to make things worse, I didn’t spot any information about the taxi man in the car. No card or details about him… You always see details of the driver on the dashboard. Definitely a dodgy taxi.

It was then when my boyfriend noticed the metre. He asked him why is it so expensive? And the taxi man didn’t reply.

Then, out of nowhere, he starts blabbering in Chinese to him. Huh…. throughout the whole ride home he never said a word…. and it was only until my boyfriend mentioned the price that he started talking.

He asked where we were from and how long have we lived in China. When we said 3 years… I’m pretty sure he copped on and thought ‘Oh no, these guys actually live here…. so they know rightly well that this metre is rigged…. well I can’t do anything about it now…’

So when we arrived home… the metre ended up at 45 元!!! What a ripoff!

He stopped the taxi and we immediately said that’s far too expensive… his reply was ‘You are foreigners!!’ 

And??? Just because we are foreigners doesn’t mean you have the right to rip us off. Obviously he doesn’t care about showing Chinese hospitality to ‘us foreigners’.

So we went back and forth with him about not paying and we settled it at 25元。 A much more satisfactory price.

I keep on wondering how he did it though; did he click a button when he saw us and thats when the metre changed? Or is the metre like that for everybody who uses it?

I didn’t know that type of thing existed. It looked like a normal taxi to us.

And apparently these fake taxis are becoming more and more common, as one student in our class said he got into 3 of these fake ones in the last year.

Thankfully we rarely take taxis, only taking them for the convenience of my boyfriends Mum and Dad being here.

But, it goes to show that these are about. In future, we will look at the dashboard and make sure there is correct information about the driver before we step into the car.

We certainly learned to be more cautious!

再见

爱玲