So how did my iTalki lesson go?

So I’ve had my first iTalki lesson on Friday evening and it went well! It was my first time so I wasn’t sure how the whole thing worked. I scheduled it at 5pm and a minute before she contacted me and said she was ready.

So we spoke about my life and just things in general like Ireland and what I do. She asked me if I wanted to talk about something specific but I didn’t plan on anything because it was just a 30 minute trial lesson.

I was a bit nervous at the beginning because I hadn’t really spoken to anyone other than my husband in Spanish for a while, and because I forgot a lot of words it wasn’t as easy to speak as before. But I slowly started to calm down and spoke a bit better.

She wrote some words and phrases that I forgot and it came up on the screen so I could see them which was cool.

I was reading that it is best to go through a few teachers and pick ones that you feel most comfortable with, so for my next lessons I will try a few more people and see who I feel the best with. I also read that some people might not go and have a lesson with a certain teacher for a while so that when they start a lesson with them again then they will have a lot to talk about.

I think with this kind of thing it’s very daunting because first you are talking to someone that you never met before in a language that you aren’t comfortable speaking in, then then fact that something could go wrong with the connection and maybe you might not hear them or see them! In my lesson I couldn’t hear her at the beginning and I was starting to panic! But then it was ok!

I remember seeing iTalki months ago when I was in Mexico and I was thinking ‘But sure I’m in a Spanish speaking country already, that would be a waste of money to pay when I’m already in Mexico’. Then I read a review about the website and about one person who was already in China and they still have online lessons with Chinese speakers so that they can still practice at home. So then I realised that it actually is a good idea.

And now that I am in Ireland I felt the only way to be able to improve my Spanish would be to take classes.. which I then found out were way too expensive. So then I thought that online learning would be the next best thing.

So I will have a scroll down through the huge list of available teachers to see which one I would like to try out next. I think it is a fantastic website and I regret not using it before now…. but as always….

better late than never.

Here is the link for the website: italki language learning

Aisling

My Class Routine In Uni

With having such a strict teacher teaching me, I stress out a lot over my reading and writing class. You need to preview, you need to review, and you need to listen to the teacher in class.

I hate stress in my life, and with your teacher asking you questions and surrounded by other students… I definitely don’t enjoy the attention!

So with our strict teacher, our class routine usually goes like this:

Monday: She usually reads a short story to everyone. After this, she asks every student a question about the story, like “Where were the people?’ ‘How were they feeling?’ Was it A or B that said blah blah blah?” I try my best; listening and writing as she reads. But there gets to a point where she is just talking too fast, and I don’t understand all the words, so then I become lost!

After this, she spends the rest of the class on doing exercises from the previous chapter in our book. If you don’t know the answer, she will wait until you figure it out. She doesn’t let you off! For me, I need to prepare this in advance; usually by having it already done. There are words I don’t know so I need to look them up. Then I need time to analyse the sentence and pick the right word. During this whole class she spends the time doing every single exercise in the book! So that’s usually our Monday class!

On Tuesday, again she reads a short story, however this time it’s usually one found in our book. Again, I prepare the night before; reading the story, writing down the new words, and even copying key points from the story into my notebook. (She makes us close our books when she is reading out loud). Then she asks us questions about the story. Thankfully I’ve already prepared so I’m a little more confident about this listening task!

Finally she starts on a new chapter of our book. This contains 40 new words and a long story with the new words in it. Before, she used to go through each word and tell us the meaning and how to use it. (All this in Chinese I might add). However now, she makes US tell her the meaning! I mean it’s so difficult, sometimes the word is quite tricky to explain it’s meaning. So a lot of times people don’t explain it right.

After this, we have a quick review and then she makes us close the books and she asks us to make a sentence out of a word she gives us. She gives it to us in Chinese, so you need to try and remember what it means! Our secret is to take a picture of all the words and we can secretly look through the list while she is asking the other students! Shhh!

Finishing this, she starts analysing the story, sentence by sentence. She asks us to shorten the sentence to it’s basic core. Like ‘There is a young man called LinWei and he is looking for a sales job in the city’ The answer she would want is ‘ a man, looking for a job.’ We usually get half the story done on this day!

Wednesday is the same as Tuesday, however we then start on the next set of 20 words and the next part of the story.

Thursday: She begins by reading the whole story which we have been studying, and she reads out a sentence with a words that’s missing. We then need to shout out the word that needs to be inserted, like ‘Before he felt confident, but now he began to ….. his ability.’ We would need to shout out the Chinese word ‘huaiyi’ which means ‘doubt’ At the same time she is keeping an eye on everybody in the classroom! If she doesn’t see anyone answering her, she will say ‘Oh I see Nangong hasn’t answered any yet!’ When she sees someone not answering, she actually moves closer to them, to put more pressure for an answer from them!!

So today, I actually did a good job with this part! I was able to answer some, while others weren’t able to. I read the story about 6/7 times before hand so I suppose that helped a lot!

After reading the story, she moves onto teaching some words which may be more difficult, and then doing the grammar. We then need to give her a sentence with the grammar. She wants to make sure that we know how to use the grammar correctly.

So my whole semester goes like this with her! I really feel like I’m learning things with her, but I just get so stressed. So my way of trying to tackle the stress is to prepare. Prepare prepare and prepare even more! I feel like I’m ready for the class now, instead of going with absolutely nothing done. I like the feeling of knowing that this is done, I know these words.  I don’t need to worry as much!

With our second teacher, it’s time to relax! She is a much easier teacher, and the classroom is much more upbeat! What I like about this teacher is that she gives each of us a word/ sentence and we need to explain what it is to the other students. For example one time I was given ‘build a snowman’ and I said ‘When it’s snowing, you make this thing….’ People have to guess what is on your card. I enjoy this because it gets you talking and you have to make it up on the spot.

We usually do some listening and some discussions on different topics. One time we discussed ‘Is it better to have a stable job or a non-stable job when you are 30?’ She puts us into groups and we should discuss why it’s good/bad.

So I work hard in the first class and then I’m rewarded by having a relaxing class afterwards!

再见

爱玲

 

Job Hunting

With my fiancé soon to finish working with his current employer, and like myself , he will also be unemployed. As much as I love not working; I can study MUCH more….I really don’t like the feeling of knowing absolutely nothing is going into my bank account. We’ve really cut down on spending, but we can’t survive here without working.  There are a few people we know here who don’t work, and I have no idea how they are doing it! Please let me in on your secret on not working in China!

But anyway, unfortunately we aren’t the lucky ones who can afford to not work. Thankfully I’m not a big spender in general, but even getting my 7yuan Coco drink (€0.94cent) makes me cringe!

So we’ve heard recently that a girl from our Chinese class is leaving in a few weeks, and she has classes that her school she works for wants to move to other teachers. We decided to meet up with the lady in charge and she told us more about the schedule and what not.

What we love about the job is that it’s only 10 minutes by cycling to reach the school. Very handy! Plus it’s a small school, so the emphasis is on giving the students a good education,  They are not obsessed with money like my previous employer was. But there are a few things which have made us doubt wanting to work there.

The schedule is all over the place, so I would have no idea how they would arrange it for 2 teachers to teach the classes. The schedule is really only suited for person. Plus our friend works 6 days a week…. I definitely do not want that!

The pay isn’t standard with many other places; sure if I didn’t have much experience, I’d accept their hourly rate, but as I’ve 3.5 years experience, I’d like to earn a little higher than what they are offering.

Another issue is with their teaching times. Ideally they want someone who will work until next February. However our visa expires in the middle of January. So we were looking at options on how to tackle this. One option is to stay another semester at the Uni, then we could commit to teaching with them for two full semesters. I know I know, with our history of constantly changing our plans here in China, I wouldn’t be surprised if we are still here in another 10 years!! Every year it’s ‘Oh we’ll just stay one more year…….and another year….and another…’ 

But, that just goes to show how comfortable you can get here. As every foreigner in China knows all too well!

Finally, every month they take money out of teachers wages, and then at the end of the contract they give it back. I understand this, but it’s quite a lot of money they take out! So if you have to leave unexpectedly… boom…. that money you have earned is now gone. So I don’t really like that aspect of the job.

So anyway… at the moment we don’t really know what to do. It feels like we are are adapting for the school, whereas the school should be adapting for us.

We’ll think about it more and discuss with the owner… if we are willing to adapt to her needs, then surely she should be able to adapt to ours….well, that’s what I’m hoping!

再见

爱玲

Just Answer The Question Please

So lately I’ve been keeping my eye out on any possible job opportunities here. I can’t stay jobless here forever unfortunately.

I found a posting for a teacher to teach adults travelling English and it was located in the West of Chengdu. Now Chengdu is big, so I wanted to know where exactly in the West they wanted to have class. I live in the south west, so I was thinking that it may be quite close to me and that I may not have to travel too far.

That’s all… just answer that one simple question and then maybe, if the location was suitable… then I would consider it.

So I get in contact with someone and I ask them

“Where in the west would they like to have class?”

They reply “Please give some information about yourself please”.

Well ok… so I gave them a quick voicemail message about myself and sent it to him.

“I will give your details to a friend of mine and you can discuss it with him”.

So I still don’t know where exactly this teaching job is….

The friend then contacts me and asks where I live and when I can teach.

I reply and then ask againWhere in the West do they want to have class?”

“Oh if you know a coffee shop or a place near to yours then they can have class there”. 

That’s good I thought…. but then I began to think: If they said they wanted class in the west, then why do they suddenly say near my area is also fine? I might live 1 hour away from them…. 

Anyway, we keep messaging each other and later he sends me a location on maps of where they want to have class.

“Is this location ok for you to teach??”

What??? It would take me 40 minutes cycling to reach there! It’s nowhere near my area!

Why say ‘They can have class near your area’ and then send me a location nowhere near me?

I replied “That place is too far for me, it would take me 40 minutes by bike to reach there. If they can come closer to my area thats ok, but maybe if they can’t then I think they should find a teacher closer to them”.

I really didn’t want to waste 80 minutes travelling just to have a 1.5 hour class. It’s definitely not worth it.

Plus, I don’t think the adult students would be too happy having to travel to my area either. So I felt it was better for them to try and find a teacher nearer to where they live.

But all this could have been avoided if they just answered my question in the first place! That’s all I wanted to know…. they wanted to know everything about me but couldn’t give me proper information about something that is rather important for teachers if they want to do some private teaching.

You know, I felt bad running them around the place, but I never said I would take the job, I was only enquiring,  but to me, it felt like they were thinking ‘OH WE FOUND ONE, SHE WILL TEACH THE STUDENTS…PHEW’

I don’t think they figured out I was just enquiring. That was all.

So I’m a bit hesitant now to contact any other people about jobs. I don’t think they realise that teachers may just be enquiring about things. Especially when they don’t elaborate on info. If it’s vague (like my one) then you certainly need to be clear on place, hours, salary etc. Maybe I should be clearer next time.

I suppose that’s one lesson I learned from job postings here!

再见

爱玲

Just About Coping

After 3 weeks of returning to Chinese class… I’m still very stressed with my class. My listening teacher is fine (she talks far too quickly and basically speaks to us like we are Chinese; so she’s just too fast for us) but it’s my first teacher where I’m struggling.

Every week she reads a story to us and we have to listen to her. Then she asks each and everyone of us to answer a question about the story.  Because she’s talking for like 3/4 minutes, I get the beginning bit… but after that it’s just gibberish. She speaks very fast and I just can’t grasp what she’s saying quick enough.

So I’ve realised my listening is quite poor in comparison to some others, so I really need to improve my listening ability.

Today, she asked me 3 questions about the story and I didn’t know the answer to any of them. So that wasn’t good!

She’s a great teacher though. She puts you on the spot and you have to answer. So you need to pay attention. I just feel my Chinese isn’t high enough for her class.

But I’ll stick with it though. I realise I remember the grammar and vocab more though compared to my last semesters classes. I actually can’t remember much of anything from that book! So that’s something anyway!

再见

爱玲

Recap Of My First Day Of Semester 5

Tiredness has befallen me! With our rude and disrespectful neighbours listening to loud loud music until 1:45am last night…. I was not exactly hopping with energy this morning only having gotten 5 hours sleep.

All this crap is just making want to leave  China as soon as possible.

But anyway, I managed to make it to class on time and not fall asleep! And I tell you, I definitely won’t be able to day-dream this semester!

Reading and writing is our first class, and in comes the teacher. I was expecting her to greet us and then start with the story and grammar… but no…. she doesn’t touch the book but instead starts to read a passage from a book about Chinese culture and what gifts you should give your friends/ girlfriends/ boyfriends/ friends girlfriend and so on.

She told us to listen to her and then she will ask us questions based on the passage. What?? No easy class of reading??!! This is not a speaking and listening class teacher!!

And she meant it…. asking each student a question about the passage… most of us didn’t understand all of the passage or didn’t understand what she was asking…. but we all got through it in the end! PHEW!

After the break it was then that she started the book… but oh no… it wasn’t all that easy. Once she finished going over some of the words, she asked each of us to make a sentence with one. (we didn’t even get to pick the words we wanted to use aka the easiest!)  With me, my problem with new vocab is that I don’t know how to use it in a sentence properly, so I didn’t really know if I would say my sentence correctly. Thankfully though I did!

So that wasn’t exactly a relaxing class. My last semesters reading and writing class was much much easier! Oh the memories!

Onto the next class: Listening and Speaking. And I really don’t like this class. My weakness is speaking… I don’t particularly enjoy speaking Chinese ( I know, that’s a bad sign when I want to learn it!) but I need to get over my fear of speaking!

Our next teacher seems nice, but she spoke quite fast for me and used too many new words… so it was difficult to keep up with her sometimes.

In this class we had to introduce ourselves, where we are from, our hobbies, and what we want to learn/ achieve in the class.

So when she got to me I said I don’t have a lot of confidence so I want to gain more confidence in speaking and listening. She then replied in Chinese “Oh come up and stand in front of the class and speak…that will help your confidence!”

Haha funny joke teacher.

The rest of the class went smoothly enough. At one point she unexpectedly said “aì líng, nǐ kěyǐ dú dì èr gè wèntí ma?”

“Aisling, can you read question two?”.

What??? Did I just hear my Chinese name being called out?? I definitely wasn’t expecting this! Calling on me to read??? That’s a first! Thankfully though I was sort of paying attention so I figured out what she wanted of me… but yeah, I definitely can’t switch off in class now.

The good old days of Level 5 is definitely over!

And then…..I heard my listening and speaking teacher mention the dreaded word presentations and getting up in front of the class and speaking about a topic. 

Oh no, I definitely don’t want to do either of those…. No no…

Teachers…just let me sit quietly and ignore me please! I’ll be a good student and won’t disturb you while you are attacking the other students with your gibberish….I promise!

再见

爱玲