Saturday, July 11, 2009

What is news?

So I found out Thursday at 9 p.m. that I had a summer camp starting Friday at 2 p.m.

It's a News Camp and it lasts three hours. That's pretty much all the information I was given.

After freaking out for a little bit, I decided just to print out a bunch of my old news articles and then some from that day's paper.

The kids were ages 11-15. Three weren't even Gloria students. The 15-year-old obviously didn't even want to be there. The 13-year-old girl was either his sister or his girlfriend, I can't decide. She hardly spoke any English and looked at me like a dear caught in headlights every time I asked her a question.

The other kid who isn't a Gloria student was a 13-year-old boy and he's absolutely brilliant. He could comprehend questions independently and he tried really hard to find the exact word in his vocabulary that would be best to fit his sentence. I had an 11-year-old kid who was also pretty brilliant. He's a Gloria kid and he comes from one of the poorer schools.

He's actually really sweet and we talked a lot after class. He asked me a few questions and I got to know him better. I told him that his English is really good and he said, "I don't think so but thanks."

It was adorable.

Another one of the kids was pretty close behind those two in his level of English and he seemed like a pretty upbeat kid. It seems that the last kid has mediocre English, but I think if I give him time and guidance that it will be OK.

My major problems:

1) The fact that the school gave me practically zero guidance on what they're expecting out of this class. They did, however, tell me that they want the kids to "put on" a "live news" show for their demo. What the heck does that even mean?

2) The 15-year-old guy (whose name is Silver by the way) obviously doesn't want to be there and I don't know how to make him want to be there. The girl that is practically attached to him is somewhere in between. She wants to be a good student (you can tell because she'll tap him if she realizes I'm looking at them and he's not paying attention), but she also wants to be cool like him.

How do I salvage this class?

Also, how do you put the NEWS in a way that an 11-year-old can comprehend it. Even native-English 11-year-old children would have trouble reading a newspaper and really understanding what's going on. What do these kids care if Ma Ying-jeou didn't go to Honduras because of a coup. They don't know what a coup is; they don't care about Honduras; and they probably don't even care about Ma Ying-jeou.

Actually, we did this one exercise where I gave them a fake headline and then they had to tell me all the questions they would ask if they were writing a story to fit it:

Ma Ying-jeou found dead.

One of the kids looked at me and was like "Really?!" It was so funny.

I explained it was fake and then those three super smart kids with the fantastic English were just spouting off great questions. It felt really good. I think I just need to get the energy up. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

After that class, these two high school boys came by Gloria to take a picture with me. Before class I went to 7/11 to pick up a couple of newspapers and something to drink. While I was there these boys stopped me and asked if I had time for them to ask me some questions.

Apparently their summer vacation homework is to ask people a bunch of questions in English. They had to tape record it (by the way, this kid had an AWESOME recorder) and take a picture with the person. They forgot their camera though, so they asked if they could come back after my class. It was strange, but also really funny. They asked really great questions though:

"Where are you from?"
"What is it like there?"
What do you miss most?"
"How do you feel about living in Taiwan?"

I had one more class today and it was so much fun. It was actually a sub for the second time in this class. We just played tons of review games, but it was cooler because I already knew most of the kids names. I'm jealous and I kind of want that class.

During break one of the girls came up and just started talking to me (just a normal conversation, which is really out of the ordinary for these kids). I was like, "Oooh, want to see what I learned!"

I started writing different Chinese characters on the board and they helped me with them. We had little mini-races and they corrected my stroke patterns. It's a lot of fun to learn with them. They think it's so awesome that I'm learning Chinese but also it shows them that I'm kind of in the same place as them. I know ZERO Chinese compared to the amount of English they know.

Oh, but Chinese-language accomplishment of the day:

I order tea at the tea shop just the way I like it using ONLY Chinese. They know English, but I decided it's my turn to practice and, since I see these guys something like five times a week, I may as well practice on them.

Me: "Wo yao yiga xiao bai lu cha. Yi tian tian tong. Yi tian tian bing." (I want a small cup of green tea. A little sugar. A little ice.)

As I was saying "a little ice" one of the guys was mimicking me because he knew exactly what I was going to say. The difference was this time it was in Chinese.

As the guy behind the register was typing in the order I just kind of looked at him...

Me: "So, did I say it right?"
Everyone behind the counter: "Yes!"
Me: "Yay!!!!!" (As I threw my hands in the air and jumped up and down.)

That was definitely a great end to the day. Now I have to go write my lesson plans for tomorrow because I have a class at 11 a.m.


  1. I am so incredibly jealous. You get to learn and see something new every day. Can't wait to come see you!

  2. It sounds like you are getting the hang of the language there. Keep up the good work and remember we love and miss you.