Busy three days

With classes started the days have been very busy. Its hard enough to find time to type, let alone make a posting. But I’ve got a few minutes before breakfast this morning so here goes. The food so far has been good in the school’s cafe. The fix several dishes and bring out plates of the dishes to each of the tables. You get yourself a small bowl of rice and then pick what you want off the plates and into your bowl. Double dipping is completely allowed and expected. Although I can’t bring myself to eat the fish, I have enjoyed eggplant, as well as some other strange vegetable that I don’t remember the name. Spicy green beans is my favorite, and potatoes are always a winner.

Monday was learning about Chinese culture and the differences. It was a good refresher, Amanda had actually researched most of this. The best part was hearing stories and examples of the culture clashes. Such as one woman teacher having trouble keeping a job because she smoked. In Chinese media the bad girls always smoke, and the students and school staff would see her smoke and make the same connection. So the women who smoke in our group have been told they will need to do so privately when they get where they are going. Also, China does not have the same idea that anyone can work hard and go on to do a higher class of job. One girl had to find a new school because they found out she had worked as a hairdresser, which is viewed as a low class job. Folks who work in low class jobs are viewed as not being able to work high class jobs at all. They just aren’t capable. This also follows over into teaching, which I’ll get to later.

Tuesday was our health inspection. You need one to get into the country, and then one a certified Chinese Hospital to stay. It went well enough, but everyone was mortified by the bathrooms there. Non-American of course, but also no air conditioning, so it was hot but also hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned. No soap at the sinks either. So rather than have that clean smell, you had a wrongness being increased by the heat. It didn’t smell like say a dirty truck stop bathroom. It had been somewhat cleaned, just not..sterile. The girls who had brought hand sanitizer with them were very popular.

After that was intro to teaching. The main reason Chinese have trouble speaking English is they don’t learn to speak it. They learn to write it, learn to read it, but do not know how to say the words or what they sound like. Our job is to change that by showing how the words sound, how they fit in a sentance, and how to then hold a conversation. Most of this is done by teaching a few new words for the class, having them repeat the words, then playing some type of game with the words. Today we’re to go over more in types of games, lesson plans, and how to teach.

Tuesday evening was the party with the Chinese students here at Buckland and us. They wanted to practice English with us. So as an ice breaker I brought out Tsuro. Its a boardgame where you move your piece along the board by laying tiles, but you want to keep your piece on the board and not move off. The game was very easy to learn, but takes much thinking and strategy. Once they had the idea down it was a huge hit. One of the winners wanted to take his picture with me. I’d thought the game was Chinese in origin but nobody there had heard of it. They wanted to know where I’d got it, and thought it was very fun. I’m thinking next year I could see about getting it as a gift for the school.

Fireworks were also going off like crazy. Mostly the loud bang-bang-bang-bang type. Seems there was a minor festival going on concerning ancestors and waking up or getting the attention of the dead. So there were several parties going on in the streets around us. The city also has spotlights to light up the mountains and hills that surround the city. Wish we had pictures but our cameras aren’t good enough to capture them.

Ah, gifts. That does remind me that next year I should pack many bags of animal balloons and instructions so at the end of class I can use it as a reward system. I’m sure it will be something the students will not have seen before and be amazed by. Wished I’d thought of it for this trip. Might get my family to send me a package, but its very expensive to do so. So we’ll see.

Today has mostly been about how to teach english in the classroom and each of the steps you’ll go through during the class. The main thing is having everything planned out in advance so you know what you’ll be doing. You need to make sure to activities planned match well with the subject. Most of the activities are in the form of games. So you need to be able to explain clearly and simply the rules of the game or activity. Needless to say this makes teaching english right up my alley. Most of my life is teaching how to play a game to folks, so this should be easy. To help prove the point, 12 of us have to do a test teaching the over the next two days. So tonight was brainstorming and coming up with the lesson plan. I wasn’t the first one out, but one of the first because I had good ideas that only needed a little refinement. Just need to do a little prep work, but since I teach Friday and not tomorrow I’ve got some time.