Archive | August, 2011

Beijing, 4 days in (July 18th-22)

8 Aug

My first day teaching was exhausting and I had doubts as to why I had wanted to do this. But that night the teachers in my group held a meeting to discuss how to better split up teaching loads and now one of the other teachers help every day. I was exhausted and was in bed by 9 that night, much needed as the 13 hour time change and 13 hour flight had caught up with me! I’m teaching Level 2, or intermediate English skills to 11-15 year old boys and girls. They range from very sweet and earnest 11 year olds to teenage boys that are a bit too cool for school.

I teach 4 classes in a row of 40 minutes each. My subjects are Writing and “Topic”. No, I don’t know what Topic is either but one of the British girls told me she had it in primary school. They’d work on a project for a unit or two. I’m teaching it as if its a conversation class because we’ve been told to do whatever we want to get them talking. They also apparently need the most practice speaking and listening as they do learn grammar, vocab, etc in school.

 It has been VERY unorganized with a massive dose of chaotic lack of planning. The English teacher for the school has been organizing the classes but he is actually an Economist. Yet not very good at managing/organizing. We (the teachers) got it sorted out though as much as we can with little warning on
 meetings and schedule changes.
The Chinese TA told me I talk to fast — imagine that!
Yesterday I did different games starting with a word association game, where you say a word and toss the ball to someone else who says the first word they think of — it went pretty well. Next was a question game. I found questions online such as: do you like spicy food? in your opinion, what is the unhealthiest food? What is your favorite western food? etc. (theme of the lessons that day was food). They asked another person then switched questions and went on to ask someone else. It went well! Then I split them into groups and had them come up with their own TV show which most of them liked. Some groups even acted out their shows!
Today in Writing I used an assignment from the textbook, they wrote letters to their friends, giving them advice for what to pack and do for when they come to visit in their hometown. Next, in small groups, I had them plan a party, requiring them to speak in English (wish I had empasized this for the previous day’s TV project). This worked pretty well and I hope they’re getting more willing to speak. I also asked them questions such as where in the world would you like to go and which celebrity would you like to have dinner with, specifically calling on the students that don’t ususally talk. They really are quite smart but very shy about speaking. If they write it out first they are much more comfortable speaking. Their writing is quite good.
Yesterday after teaching, a big group of us went into the city. It was a big, unwieldy group and after we took the bus for 45 mins or more we got on the subway. However, I couldn’t get the ticket machine to work so asked one of the highschool girls we’ve befriended, Claire, to help me. It just so happened that once we got my ticket, everyone had gone. So we dashed through the crowds, ran up to the train that everyone else was in aaaaaaand the doors closed. Luckily, Sudevi, one of the other Fairfield girls, saw us there on the plattform and half of the group waited for us at the stop. Unfortunately, Claire didn’t know what stop to get off on and none of the other people’s cell numbers. So we took the train for 5-6 stops as she was calling people at the school for the numbers and then got off. After about 10 minutes she got the right number and we were only 1 stop away from the right one. We got outside and there was half our group! Claire was really nervous but I was enjoying being in a new place.
We went to dinner at a touristy/fancy restaurant in a beautiful old park which I believe was Ritton Park. There was someone singing nearby at a stage outside. SO beautiful. The restaurant was really gorgeous, decorated in a mixture of modern/traditional and the food was delicious but the Chinese people with us said it was a little westernized. We’ll explore more in the future.
It gets dark here around 8pm. Very odd to me, I feel that since its summer it should be light ’til almost 10.
The school I’m working for, Camford Royal School, is opening up a new branch 2 hrs south of Beijing and the teachers are splitting up and each spending one of the 2 upcoming 10-day camp sessions up there. Its a brand new building which will be a very welcome change. We’re currently in the old dorm which I joke about being 3rd world+running water. And hot water is available only from 8-10pm. So at the end of this session we’ll either move to the newer dorms (which I jokingly call the 2nd world dorms) or go up to the other school. Almost makes sense to just go up to the new school if I have to move anyway. 🙂
Its odd how normal it feels to be here. I kinda forget I’m in CHINA. But then I’ll see a beautiful temple, or a string of red lanterns, ancient city gates and architecture and it hits me. Still unbelievable.
Now off to dinner where I’ll say one of about 3 phrases I’ve learned, wo bu che ro, or,  I do not eat meat, at the dining hall.