Tomorrow I have a presentation for my two intensive courses that I’ve been teaching for the past 3 weeks. The morning course is for preschoolers and it focuses on simple English words in categories such as animals, family members, shapes, directions and a few actions such as walk, run, etc. They already know the basics, but by and large this is the level where they can’t create sentences on their own and they lose attention real fast. The younger classes initially were my favorite. However, aside from three of the students that I really enjoy, probably because they are rather smart and attentive, I have grown tired of this course and I think they’re feeling that way too. They lose interest quickly at times with all the hours in class this summer and tend to bonk out.
Seeing the same students for both this and their normal schedule, I am looking forward to a five day break after this Monday’s regular classes.
They are precious at times.
The girl on the right in yellow is Sophie, very smart and I depend on her to keep the class moving. Lorena is the little one in blue that sits down on my left. She is younger and smaller than the rest, has the cutest grin, is unbearably sweet and is unquestionably highly intelligent. Lorena also tells my TA, Season, if the other students act up when Season leaves the room to get materials. I love it because she tattles so I don’t have to. The students know, specifically the girls, that they can get away with a lot from the male foreign teachers because most of us don’t know how to deal with little girls. Yo-Yo is the one closest to me in peach you see mugging for the camera in the beginning, followed by Ella getting her face time and giggling. Both are royal pains. Spoiled and whiny, mediocre regarding most class work. Archer is the boy, he’s OK, he would probably do better with another boy in the class. I often have to get on him because he distracts himself and others. I had a hard time with his discipline at first until I decided to be really strict with him. I’ll make him sit away from the class for five minutes or whatever. When he returns he is great and learns well. Amy is the girl in green and she cries a lot, especially in the beginning of class, so I don’t know what that’s about, something perhaps at home. That’s the thing with these kids, you never know what goes on when they leave. She is smart and we have bonded a little, I spend extra time with her as well as Lorena during crafts or breaks. Emily, who is bright and knows all the material is in between Lorena and Amy. Those three on the left sitting in a row are all fun and smart along with Sophie in yellow on the right. The rest, well, sometimes you earn your money.
Along with my preschoolers in the morning I have another intensive course with an older age group in the afternoon, ages about 11-12 years old. This is my largest class at almost twenty kids and it is also far and away my most enjoyable teaching experience so far. It is very fast paced and most of the students are sharp and motivated. Now, whether or not they are intrinsically motivated I don’t know, but it is apparent they are there to learn. Like the morning class, it is 3 sessions of 40 minutes with a 10 minute break in between sessions. Mostly it consists of a condensed pronunciation and vocabulary lesson with the students getting about 30 words a day, and I really enjoy setting up team games and they have fun as well. We cover phonics, which is basically pronunciation, focusing on material that is a inconsistent at best in English. Try explaining to a kid whose written language consist of symbols for words why the word fun starts with the letter f and photo starts with the letters ph. At least they are old enough that I can be honest with them and tell them they’ll just have to suck it up and start memorizing. Suprisingly, rote memorization is such a part of their regular school they do best with the just memorize it philosophy. This method works fine until they move up a level. I have a small class of 14 year olds who can recite rules and vocabulary all day. Ask them to write four sentences in English, in their own words, about something they think is beautiful or why they enjoy something and they simply grind to a halt. Individual creativity just seems difficult for many students and from what I can tell, by asking them and some of my Chinese friends, this is typical throughout the Chinese education system.
I have been too busy to take many pictures. My highlight of the week was trekking to buy a floor fan to help deal with the unbearable heat and “fog” (we call it smog or pollution). It’s working well, hopefully with a cooler apartment I won’t have to defrost my minifridge every two weeks because it gets so damned hot. My little air conditioner is stuck in the corner of the bedroom of my little studio and struggles at best. It keeps the bed cool, which is great, but the rest of the apartment is sweltering. I know, it’s laundry day.
With the combination of poor insulation and bad layout for air flow, the living area and kitchen reach about 30 degrees Celsius with the AC on. That’s about 85F for you Americans. The floor fan works pretty well and hopefully it will cut back on my electricity bills, which were only about 120 Kwai, or $20 to start with anyways.
I expect the bill would have really jumped substantially now that summer is here. I’m told this heat will last through September at least.
That’s it for now, I”ll have a few days off starting Tuesday so I’ll explore and have a bunch of good pictures to upload.