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.

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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

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

 

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

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

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