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

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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

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

The Advantages of Working in a University in China

The Advantages of Working in a University in China

Whilst living in China, I’ve worked in both Universities and also private schools, so I thought I’d share some advantages of working as an English teacher in a University. In China, these are sought after jobs, so regard yourself lucky if you successfully managed to get a Uni job here!

1. Guaranteed money each month.

So in a Uni job, you are guaranteed that the students will and more importantly HAVE to come to class. (if it a mandatory class and not an elective that is),You don’t need to worry ‘Oh I wonder will many people come to class today?’ In my current Uni they have to come or else they will fail. However in my first Uni job, I had a few elective groups, and a lot of students skipped it. So if you manage to get secure a job, make sure you know if it’s a mandatory class or elective class. Mostly they will be mandatory though!

2. Low hours

At the moment, I teach 10 classes of 90minutes each. Plus miraculously for this semester I only work 3 days a week. (Although one day I work from 8am to 8:40pm which is a LONG day) but in Uni jobs, you usually will have less teaching hours than private schools.  It does mean a little less money than private schools, but I think it’s still a good deal.

3. Students are older

Although sometimes I feel this is a curse, generally you can have a laugh with the students and get to know one another better than if you are teaching older students.

4. Holidays

Of course Uni jobs are well known for their long holiday breaks, plus they are fully paid. So you don’t have to feel guilty about booking time off for going on a trip!

5. Lesson Plans

In my current job, I only have to make 1 lesson plan, and that does me for the whole week! Yes it does get monotonous after a while, but I know some teachers HATE doing lesson plans for each lesson.

5. Other benefits

In our Uni, they provided us with a huge apartment which is rent free, they pay for internet, half of electricity, water, give us €20 each month for food allowance (it doesn’t sound a lot but when lunch is about €1 in the canteen then it’s plenty. Plus they pay us a bonus for starting the contract and another for completing it.

So all in all, Uni jobs are pretty good! I know every Uni is different but I don’t think I’ve heard of a person working in a bad one. But read your contract closely about what benefits they offer!

Deciding to visit Guangzhou

Deciding to visit Guangzhou

Although I have to put up with some VERY LAZY students, there are a few benefits with working in a University in China. The first and most important one is holidays!

With our university, they agreed on working some days where the rest of the people in China would have off. Then they clump all these days that we worked and then we would have a week off. Not too bad for a Uni that is very badly organised!

So in December we will have a week off for New Years and we’ve decided to spend it in Guangzhou. We were debating where to go but because it will be winter and we really don’t want to go to the north of China as it will be absolutely freezing, we thought we’d better find somewhere in the south where it will be a bit warmer than Chengdu! I hope anyway!

It’ll be nice to see the city and try the food there, which is much sweeter than Sichuan food. As we plan on leaving  China next summer, (yeah I know I said that loads of times and I’m STILL here)  we’d like to try and visit a few places before we go. Obviously China is a huge place and it would be rather difficult to visit every single place of interest, but we’ve managed to see a few sightseeing places and cities!

So that is the plan! When I first came to China the thought of travelling in this huge, non english speaking country was very daunting. Now however, we have enough Chinese to get by and we know what to roughly expect when we travel around. Plus in the East of the country a lot more people speak English so it’s handier to travel there than in Chengdu, where literally no one speaks it!

Every city in China is different so we’re excited to see what Guangzhou has to offer!

再见

爱玲 (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