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

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Money Or Happiness?

Money Or Happiness?

Unfortunately, happiness doesn’t come easy to me. I worry/ stress over pretty much everything. A lot of times I don’t like myself for whatever reason….and I haven’t done some things because my anxiety takes over and forces me to abandon it. I’m missing out on things because I’m too afraid to do it… and it drives me mad!

So when it comes to money or happiness… which one should you choose? I’ve been at the same company for the past 3 years, but I finally gave in my 1 months notice. This definitely wasn’t because I had too much money.. like everyone else I need to work. But I simply just wasn’t happy. I had my meeting with my manager and told her how I feel. I don’t mind teaching, and my students are all really nice… just I didn’t want to work for the company anymore. Their new changes weren’t going to benefit me,  we had no say as to whether the teachers actually wanted these new changes… and it just felt like I had no opinion on anything… accept it and that’s that.

We plan on leaving China during the summer, so If I stayed, I would only have to work another 4/5 months, and I know some people would say ‘Oh just stick it out…it’s only a few more months’  But for me, I knew I would feel worse and worse if I stayed.

For me, I would pick being happy than money. I certainly need money, but happiness to me is more important. I strive for happiness in my life… but sometimes it feels like I’m never going to be happy. Whatever I do it won’t be good enough. So that’s my ongoing battle with myself!

In a previous job, it made me really unhappy.  I remember crying one night because I just didn’t want to be there. So I left. I then spent the last year looking for jobs… which kind of made it worse!

I know in a few weeks I’ll be thinking ‘Oh why didn’t I stay… I’d have more money now and I wouldn’t be worrying about my finances’… I know I’ll be thinking that… but just at this moment my  overwhelming desire of happiness just overrides these feelings. In a way, knowing that I made this decision by myself… to better myself mentally makes it (at this moment) worthwhile.

Does anyone else have the same opinion, or would some people choose money over happiness?

再见

爱玲

 

Chinese Golden Week

Once again China has their annual ‘Golden Week’, where they all have 7 days holiday.. usually from the 1st to the 7th of October. During this time China becomes mad with people travelling here and there… but I certainly won’t be going anywhere!

It’s great to get a week off going to University, but unfortunately China is just too busy during holidays. Many just stay at home and relax, while others will venture out and join the swarm of other millions of people.

It’s such a pity though. I would love to go and travel during this time, but I know, from experience, everywhere you go there will most certainly be too many people. Plus the roads leading out of Chengdu will be jam packed with cars.

No, I think we’ll leave the travelling to the braver ones. We plan on relaxing, saving some money, try and study Chinese…oh and work.  Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean the children have a holiday. Of course they will have tonnes of homework and will have to come to English class.

I asked one of my 14 year old student what were her plans for the holiday. She replied ‘I’ll go with my family travelling but my teachers gave me a lot of homework, so I will have to bring my homework with me and do it during my holiday’.

The poor Chinese students never get a break from school. I really feel sorry for them. No wonder many families are sending their children abroad to study now…

Her Mum is planning on sending her to America next year to study so fortunately she will be out of the Chinese education rat race to be the best. Although she is extremely clever, with the 2nd highest exam scores of her whole school for her summer exams. So she will be fine in America.

So with no school for a whole week… when I return I will certainly not want to get up early in the morning again!

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

University Time Once More

With summer flying by, I’m once again back at Uni. One of the reasons why it seems that it went so fast is because here I don’t finish until the end of June… whereas at home, colleges finish the end of May. So we got an extra month of holidays in Ireland. Here however, Chinese people get more holidays during Chinese New Year, and two months off during summer.

Having come back from travelling, studying Chinese had taken a break. Since Monday I’ve been back to Uni, so my studying is back underway again.

This semester we have decided to skip a level and move up to Level 5. Every level I’ve been in wasn’t exactly a struggle. I’d go in, learn and come back out. I knew I wasn’t really pushing myself.

That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to try 5. Plus doing all 10 levels would take 5 years….. so no thank you.

I’ve only had 2 days of class, but I know already It will be more difficult than before. Before, I understood everything that the teacher said and the Chinese she wrote on the board, and the grammar wasn’t too difficult either.

This time round, I don’t understand everything the teacher says… there are plenty of Chinese characters I don’t know…. oh and the grammar is tougher. Even the book content has jumped up a notch… with more difficult sentences and Chinese characters. I really need to preview everything before class now.

Only 6 of us moved to level 5 from our level 3 class, with some moving to 4. I’ve been with them since Level 2, so it’s a bit weird not being in the same class as them now.

And with every semester it seems as if my standard of Chinese is getting lower and lower. Level 2 my Chinese was better than most, 3… it was average… this time round… I feel it’s lower than a lot of peoples. But I suppose that just makes me realise that I need to continue learning.

I feel like my Chinese hasn’t improved at all, especially my speaking…. but then I remembered the first day we came to the school… we ended up going to the Level 5 classroom by accident. We asked the lady next to us what book she was using, as hers was different to ours.. and she showed us. Seeing all these Chinese characters made us quickly jump out of our chairs and head to our correct Level 1 classroom. At that time I knew zero characters… absolutely none.

Now, the teachers fills the whole board with characters which we have to read. Most of them I can read no problem… but it showed me that this time 1 year and a half ago, there was no way I could read them. . . so I suppose I did learn a lot since the time I started.

I’m just hoping in a few weeks time I’m not crying about how difficult this semester is!

再见

爱玲

 

 

Methods On Learning Chinese: Week 2

For last weeks meeting on how to learn Chinese more efficiently, we were introduced to a new systematic way of remember both tones and the pronunciation.

It sort of involves a memory palace, where sets of pinyin like ‘iong’ are put into either categories like men, women, animation characters, or gods.  So far, I’m still confused with how you go about trying to remember how each pinyin is represented by one of these categories, so this week’s lesson will explain to us in more detail how it works.

I think it’s very clever way of memorising Chinese. God know’s It has been difficult for me.

They also gave us Anki decks where we have to pick a picture of someone, say George Clooney, and match him with a sound like zh. That way you associate that sound with a person.

To me now it’s still all a bit confusing, but hopefully in tonight’s class it will all become clearer!

再见

爱玲

Don’t Want To Quit

As I keep saying, this Chinese really does do my head in sometimes. I put the effort in, but I just can’t see the results….

Some days I think ‘Whats the point??? Will I even use Chinese after learning it? Would I be better off just quit learning it and start learning Spanish instead?? Spanish will only take about 1 year to learn anyway.’

But this  thought keeps popping up:

‘I don’t want to quit’.

Like so many other people, I quit a lot of things when  I was younger; Speech & Drama, tin-whistle, flute, dancing, singing, karate (although I can’t remember) learning French, among other things. Now I regret quitting all those things. I’m jealous that so many Chinese students can play the piano, I wish I could play it. But I know I probably would have quit at some stage.

So now, with the Chinese, I’m old enough to have some self-discipline. I want to prove to myself that I can do it. I want to meet my French teacher one day and say to her ‘Yes I can speak fluent Chinese.’ (I was the worst at French and there were only 7 students in the whole class)

I don’t want to add Chinese to my long list of regrets.

So I’m going to keep trying and trying and even more trying to learn this seemingly impossible language. And maybe one day it will all just click into place for me.

I need to stay positive with it and stop pressuring myself to be better than what I am. I’m terrible for putting myself down, especially for Chinese.

I just keep thinking ‘In another year  I’ll know more Chinese then I do now.’ Which helps a bit.

再见

爱玲