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.

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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

All The Same Names

All The Same Names

With having 10 classes of about 25 students in each, there are quite a lot of students names to remember! However in the other University where I first taught in Chengdu, I sometimes had 80+ students in one class alone. So there was absolutely no way that I could remember all their names. This time around, there are less students, but instead, they all decide to choose really similar names to each other!

For girls, I’m pretty sure the majority of the girl students begin with the letter ‘A’.

Alisa, Alice, Ann, Anne, Anny, Annie, Anna,  Alyson, Alina,  Aimee, Amy, Abby, Amber.

TOO MANY ‘A’s!!!!!!

How the hell am I supposed to remember all these girls with names that sound so similar to each other?? In one class I had 2 Amy’s and 1 Aimee. So one Amy thankfully decided to change her name to….

‘MC DOUBLE T’

….. I’ve no idea where she got it from but at least it doesn’t start with A! So I don’t mind at all!

During our first class together, I asked all the students “Why did you pick your name?”

“Because it was easy”

Too right it was easy!

The boys on the other hand have more unique names; Ambrose, Wilson, Curry, Fireman, Black, Eden, Angelo, Jack, Juny, Silver Wolf, Snapper, Sim, Farlin, Ingemour, Brother Zhou.

So there are a few strange boy ones but they are definitely the one’s that I can remember!

I feel bad asking the girl students 5 time during class ‘Sorry what’s your name again?’ But at the same time it is very difficult for me to remember all these ‘A’ named students.

So I’m going to be struggling with remembering who they all are for this semester and then next semester I will have brand new students!

Let’s hope next time I’ll be the only person in the classroom with a name that begins with ‘A’!

Aisling.

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

 

The Police Are Coming!

So I’ve settled in nicely with regards to teaching and where I’m currently living. We’ve also visited a few shopping centres that are a few bus stops away from us, plus found new places to eat, so all in all I think we have both settled in ok.

We are always trying to find new places to eat, but in China there will always be food places around. If there are people, restaurants will come.

One evening after class, we decided to venture outside the campus and take a 5 minute walk to a street where there are more restaurants. We come across about 5/6 food stalls literally straight in front of the campus back gates. “This is great!” we thought. Now we have some food on our doorstep!

So we have a look at what they are selling; fried potatoes (great for me), these sort of Chinese pancakes, fried rice, noodle dishes and bbq food on sticks (called shao kao). So quite a nice selection!

We decide to get a rice dish and while we are ordering, one of the other foreign teachers comes behind us and we start talking. He mentions that usually the police show up and the food stalls have to move up and go. I’m not sure if they are legal or illegal, but I’m sure the other restaurants down the road get pretty angry when these people literally park right outside the students campus and sell their food.

So anyway, the teacher leaves with his food and we continue to wait for ours to be cooked. All of a sudden we hear two beeps coming down the road. We look up and we see blue lights flickering down the road. “Oh the police are here!!” we said. And up they come in their police golf cart and park. It’s such a funny sight seeing police officers in this electric golf cart for the 4 of them. I’m not sure if this is in all of China, but in Chengdu it’s very common to see them spinning about in their cart.

police golf cart

Source; google

“Tamen you lai le”…”Here they are again” I heard our lady from our cart say. Of course they know that the police will eventually come, so they quickly try and get as many orders out as they can.

IMG_8975

The different food stalls

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He cooks while she takes care of the orders

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If there are no police, it’s safe to come!

So the police come and stop, and one man jumps out and starts taking pictures of the stalls. Of course he’s seen this before, so he casually waits until all the carts have finished their orders and then tells them to go! We were worried that we wouldn’t get our food, but thankfully they were able to cook the remaining orders and then move on.

Our teacher told us that sometimes the stalls go to different places in the road, and even down a little side alley in order to evade the police!

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My dish which cost €1.30

 

So we are very happy to know that these stalls are about somewhere! Until the police cart shows up that is!

再见

爱玲

Settling Into My New Home & Job

I’ve been back in China for just over a week, but we’ve been so busy packing our things, moving and starting our new jobs, that it really feels like I’ve been here for weeks already! I’m shocked when I think I’m back only 1 week!

From arriving back in Chengdu, both myself and my fiancé were busying packing the remainder of our things, moving them into two vans we booked, moving into our new place, meeting new teachers (all male by the way, so I’m really outnumbered) … and finally work on Monday! So we were quite busy when we arrived back!

With most of our things unpacked, we can finally relax in our new apartment and area where we are living. Our university that we work in has two campuses; one for the 1st and 2nd years, and another for the older students. We live in ‘villa’ sort houses in the campus for the older students. The building where we live only has 3 floors, and they are dedicated solely to the foreign teachers; each building houses 3 teachers… so it’s refreshing not to be surrounded by people below you, above you, and either side of you! We live on the ground floor, so we just have another teacher living above us.

Apartment wise, it’s a BIG improvement to our old apartment…. our new place is absolutely HUGE! I’m pretty sure the whole of our old apartment could fit into our new bedroom. Now if I lose something, I could be looking for 10 minutes for it! Theres actually too much space now! Another good is that we actually have a U shaped sofa!!!! No more do I have to put up with our tiny, crappy, uncomfortable sofa from the old place. Our shower is fantastic (the shower head didn’t work very well in the other place), we now have a big dining table and a proper bed (instead of just a mattress on the floor).

We also have big air conditioning units in both the living area and the bedroom. Our toilet is a huge improvement too! In the old apartment, their was literally no water pressure whatsoever in our toilet, so we always needed a big bucket of water to give everything a helping hand…

The only problem with this apartment is the lack of a cooking area. Now I don’t usually cook anyway, but it’s always nice to have the option. Here we just have a portable electric stove top … and it’s actually broken. Plus we have no electric fan to get rid of the food smell. So that’s one negative thing about the place.

But apartment wise, so far I really like it!

As for my job, I feel this has been a REALLY long week! Every foreign teacher here teaches 1st year students, and whatever lesson plan we do for our first class of the week, then we use that one for the remainder of the week….. so it does become very very monotonous! I have 10 classes, so I have to repeat the exact same lesson plan 10 times. Sure it’s easy, but when it comes to the 6/7th time of doing the exact same thing, it does grate on me a little. That’s why it feels like such a long week.

Most of my students are girls, with only 4/5 boys in each class, and generally they are ok. Some of their English is atrocious though, so I really don’t know how I’m going to teach these kids anything if they can’t even get the basics right. But thankfully the school doesn’t put pressure onto the foreign teachers, so we are free in doing whatever we want in class. It’s up to the students to try and learn!

Location wise, because we are outside the city, I really do feel a bit lonely and isolated here. As I said before, I loved my previous area where I lived. Now… it takes 1 hour by bus to even get to our nearest ATM! By taxi it would take 30 minutes to get to somewhere where there is a decent amount of people…. so yeah, I do feel very isolated from everything. I don’t think I could live here for longer than 1 year.

For food, we’ve only had one dish which we have really enjoyed. Because we are located where students live, the restaurants near us aren’t exactly good quality or flavoursome. Yeah it’s cheap, but the food is very basic and I don’t particularly enjoy some dishes. Also each restaurant basically serves the exact same thing, so it’s hard to find a good meal here!

So there are some positives and negatives of moving. One good thing is that we are guaranteed money each month so we can save for our wedding and what not. We are guaranteed the same holidays as the students, and with the amount of walking and cycling I do… I’m optimistic I’ll lose some weight!

I know I’m going to feel down some days and just wishing I could leave, but I’m glad I didn’t come here by myself… I don’t think I could last!

再见

爱玲