Friday, June 19, 2009

What are five words that describe famine?

So Thursday was a relatively boring day. Almost all the teachers had to go to this big workshop about how to teach summer classes and that was pretty much the only thing on my schedule for the day.

The workshop was actually pretty helpful for me though. This guy Bill was teaching it. I'm not sure if I've talked about Bill before, but he has been in Taiwan for more than 15 years. He speaks Chinese now, gets along great with all the co-teachers and has a serious arsenal of games to play.

Summer classes are essentially for children who know no, or very little, English. It's a fast-paced beginners' course basically, so we squeeze a 16-week program into an 8-week program. Going over this was great though because now I have a little packet, suggestions for games and some ideas for how to teach the kindie kids. Bill makes it look easy though.

After the workshop everyone else was hurriedly putting together their lesson plans and heading off to class. I, however, had no class yesterday, no observations or anything, so I sat around and did nothing.

Actually, I did research on the trip I plan to eventually take to The Philippines. I also looked up different places to go in Taiwan and started searching for a scooter so I could get an idea of how much that will cost me.

I've decided I want to go to Kaohsiung (Gow-shung) in July for the World Games. I just think it would be a lot of fun. Only problem is there have been a lot of earthquakes in the southern region of the island and that's where typhoons tend to make landfall. That's not to say that will happen then, but it's something to be mindful of.

I went to the market and got myself some cong dra bing and bought some stuff for games in my classes and a watergun (just cause). While I was waiting for my food, the guy that runs the stand next to it kept trying to talk to me.

Problem: he was speaking Chinese.

The lady at the stand I was at translated a little for me. He was asking where my friend (Megan) was. I went there with her right after I got here and I guess this was misleading. She can speak lots of Chinese and she did all the talking that time so they probably thought I could speak Chinese too... Whoops.

Anyway, he told me I was very pretty — something I keep getting from people here, I think they just don't know what else to say in English. Then as I was leaving he said, "See you tomorrow!"

I think that's adorable.

People here have incredible memories though. The guy at the breakfast place at the corner already remembers me. The other day I went by myself and ordered my dan bing with no sauce. Today he was like, "No sauce, yes?"

I had a workshop about teaching Yellow Book classes today. This is like the third level of classes and usually for kids in late-elementary school to junior high. It was fun and Josh gave me and Ray a million games to play with Yellow Book kids. Sometimes they can be the most difficult, apparently, because they're all almost teenagers or they are teenagers and so they're trying to preserve their cool.

We all know preserving your cool equals lack of participation. I'm too cool to answer my teacher's questions and play games in my English class. This is apparently also a problem with Wow (junior high to high school) classes.

I subbed my first class today. A teacher here had to go to Hong Kong for a visa run because she only came in with a 30-day visitor's visa and she didn't get her resident permit paperwork quickly enough. The class was a Wow class.

It wasn't the worst experience of my life. I could definitely use some work, but I managed to keep the kids relatively engaged.

To be honest, I was happy it was Wow because that meant they already knew English pretty well and so I wasn't going to have a complete communication meltdown. I had a lesson plan all worked out before class but when I got there the co-teacher (Taiwanese teacher) told me that the regular teacher was getting ahead of herself and I needed to focus on review because the kids had a test coming up in the next class.


I had to completely rework everything and find a way to make the reviews I had planned already take even longer. Essentially, I turned all the games I had into review games. It was crazy!

I got really frustrated at one point because we were reviewing active and passive voice. Apparently, on their test they're going to have to take a sentence that is written in active voice and change it to passive voice. I personally think this is bad form. I know I use passive voice sometimes, but I think it's terrible to teach kids to do that. Going from passive to active would be better.

Later we were playing one game though and I was doing it completely off-the-cuff and I was so happy it didn't completely blow up in my face.

Basically, I think of a word and I give the kids five clues, one by one. If they guess the word with only one clue then their team gets 50 points, with two clues they get 40 points, until if gets down to 5 clues and only 10 points.

It sucked because I had NEVER seen their vocabulary list before so I was having to think up things right on the spot. I have found since I've been here that I may know English pretty well, but remembering what past participle is or defining certain words in the simplest possible terms sometimes seems like an impossible feat.

I had no idea how to describe famine in five words without completely giving it away or not using words the kids don't know.

I used disease as one of the words and I'm so proud of myself.

50 Points: cure
40 Points: sickness
30 Points: doctor (Before I wrote this I asked the co-teacher is the kids would know bacteria... No.)
20 Points: H1N1

The kids finally got it when I put up H1N1. It took a little coaxing still.

Kids: "Flu!"
Me: "OK, yes, H1N1 is a flu, but the flu is a kind of what?"
Kids: "Ummmmmmmmmm."
Me: "Dih, dih, dih..."
Tiny kid in the front row: "Disease????"
Me: "Yes!!!!"
All the other kids: "Oh my godddd!!!" *lots of garbled Chinese*

If anyone has suggestions for different fun games to play with kids let me know. They don't just have to be word games, they can just be killing-time-having-some-fun-taking-a-break games. I like those.

Tomorrow, I have two more subs at Nan-Kan school, which isn't TOO far away and another girl in the dorm is going to take me there so I don't have to worry about finding the bus there. One is another Wow class like I had today and one is a Yellow Book class.

Wish me luck!


  1. Sounds like you are well on your way little one.

  2. Congrats on the good day (and the compliments on your looks ;) ). I always liked the game 7-UP when I was in middle school. Not very educational, but it always keps us all busy and quiet.