Saturday, July 25, 2009

Teacher, Do you speak Chinese?

So today started out really crappy and has slowly gotten better.

My alarm clock didn't go off and considering I've still been sleeping late every day, that sucked. I didn't wake up until almost 10 a.m. and I had to be at my school at 10:50. I just barely made it and I didn't get any breakfast. :(

My co-teacher kind of made me a little mad in that class because I was about to teach New Century and she straight up told me no and to do something else. Something I wasn't prepared to teach because I had prepared for New Century.

I do most things off the cuff anyway so it wasn't a disaster, but it really threw me off. Mostly, I think, because it's unusual for the co-teachers to do something like that.

After class she was saying something about how she had already taught New Century and that's why. She kind of apologized and then essentially told me I'm responsible for these other three books and that's it. She also basically told me how to teach the class. She's been with them a lot longer than I have, but none of them like to talk and I don't necessarily think that's my fault.

Then I had 20 minutes to get to another school to teach the second week of my second News Camp. I made it, but only barely. I tried to go in with a good attitude. I asked all the kids how they were doing and no one responded. Then I asked what they did this week, no one responded. Then I started talking about the brain because that's what our article for the day was.

Me: OK, what does you brain do?
Me: You use it to think right? You use it to make your body move. You use it for everything!
Me: OK, are you guys understanding me? Do you know what 'brain' is?
Me: Seriously guys, say something. At least say yes or no when I ask if you understand.

I had a smile on my face the whole time but none of them would speak. I would probably hate my parents for sending me to a freaking English camp on Saturday afternoon during the summer too, but I was trying SO HARD.

I essentially had a meltdown. I wanted to cry because the day was going to badly already and I felt defeated. Instead of crying I went and found a secretary to speak Chinese to the kids and ask them if they understood me and tell them that if they don't they need to at least tell me that.

She did, things were a little better. Then 20 minutes later the school director came in and talked to them. She actually sent me out of the room. I went upstairs to vent.

THEN Anita, the hiring administrator, called and told me that Asian children think it's rude to tell their teachers when they don't understand and that's why they didn't tell me. I think that was a load of crap though. They tell me when they don't understand me any other time. In fact, last week these kids would tell me.

I decided that maybe I started off on the wrong foot. These kids are used to playing games all through their English classes. That's the general environment around here: English is fun!

We played 20 questions for the next 45 minutes.

That actually helped quite a bit. After our regular break in the middle of class we slugged through the article. Even this article — which I found on an ESL Web site — was still difficult for them. We spent so long just going through vocabulary.

I have pretty much decided that I'm going to spend the rest of the camps playing word games to build up the kids vocabulary and just doing writing exercises. Reading the news is too hard and they all seemed to actually have fun when I gave them a bunch of funny details for them to write a fake story about.

I think that's as close to news as we're going to get.

In my last class today I had three more new students. That's six new students in two weeks! The class is up to 14 kids now, which is fine. I really don't want to have any more than that though. Wow classes are already pretty hard and our time is already limited. I only see them for an hour and a half each week.

Either way, we had a lot of fun in that class. The boys that sit in the back were asking Anna if I understood or speak any Chinese.

Anna: Well, why don't you ask her!
David: Um, Teacher Jimmie... Do you... speak Chinese?
Me: Ummm, a little? I only started learning a few weeks ago.
Tall Kevin: What can you say?
Me: Wo shi Meiguoren. Wo jiao Jimmie.
Anna: Can you order anything?
Me: Oh! I can order green tea!
David: Say it!
Me: Wo yao yiga da bei lu cha.

All the kids in my class oohed and aahed and laughed.

David: Say it again! That's so cool!

Apparently I was actually saying everything correctly. I think the kids think it's cool simply for the fact that they know more Chinese than me and I know more English than them. We are all in the learning process and that's a good thing. I think it makes them less self-conscious about not knowing everything.

But the BEST thing to happen today was that I got a care package in the mail! Flannery sent me a box full of Texas.

There is a book about Texas; Texas postcards; a Texas Longhorns pennant; Texas Longhorns confetti; Mac 'n' Cheese from HEB; a pen with the top shaped like Texas!

She also made me this great little bulletin board. The background has all of these cars piled on top of each other.

Can you tell that I love Texas? I really miss it sometimes.

No comments:

Post a Comment