Apologies for the lateness of this post; as I mentioned in our last blog, our workload has increased a little with it being the summer holidays here in China. What better to do with all this free time, than come to extra classes, run by many of the private schools here in China!
Our extra classes are off curriculum, though they all have a textbook alongside them. They cover all ages and abilities, from kindergarten students to senior students, covering vocab, grammar, and phonics. On an individual basis, our workloads don’t increase too drastically as we only teach one of these extra classes each, but we teach that one class every day for 4 days a week, including one day of our weekend! This happens every summer and winter holiday, minus the days that are public or national holidays.
I (Sam) have been tasked with low-level seniors, and Callum has been charged (again) with a level 2 phonics.
My seniors are a good laugh, even though one or two of them started with no English at all. I have 5 boys, and when they know the vocab we’re learning we’ll change it ad-lib style to something more exciting (last week we learned ”bellybutton”). Every lesson we’re up, running around, and on their break they’re tasked with talking to as many people in the bathrooms, kitchen, and office as possible. That not only helps them practice their English with someone other than me and my wonderful teaching assistant, but also helps to make others’ days – last Friday they had to make as many people smile as possible (we had just learned “beautiful”, “handsome”, and “a good sense of humour”)
Hell, maybe this week I’ll teach them an English joke… do you have any suggestions?
My (Callum) phonics students are at the other end of the scale, low level 8-10 year olds who are learning the sounds of the western alphabet and how to combine them into simple words. It’s an essential skill, which allows them to tackle any new word by breaking it down into recognisable chunks and sounding it out. We don’t use it much in the UK so it takes some getting your head around. When you combine it with critical thinking, where they use context to guess the meaning of words, they are really well equipped to tackle new language on their own. Unfortunately this course mostly consists of throwing all the weird words in the english language at them and seeing what they do with it. Trying to explain why the ch in chef isn’t the same as the ch in chief, when they can barely spell their own names, is challenging to say the least. Fortunately my students are a great bunch of very mixed ability, and work hard to help each other out.
Aside from our summer courses, we have also started to swim. The week that I (Sam) bought a card with a Chinese friend for an indoor swimming pool not far from my home, was the week the pool in our complex was filled and opened. We have been in a few times; how can you not when the entrance fee is the equivalent of £1? Its relatively clean, and although it’s busy and a little small, it has a wonderful view of the stars when it gets darker in the evenings.
Not much else to report as we’ve been too busy teaching to do anything more exciting. We tried to get away for a weekend but ended up getting far too drunk at a works party and in our hungover state couldn’t make it to the train station, so that was underwhelming.
Ooooh, we had our first typhoon day this weekend, where the government issued a close-all-the-schools order for a day, but we just moved all our classes to our day off instead. hooray for 7 day weeks 😛 The rain wasn’t the heaviest we’ve seen here, but it must have been windy in the night as a few trees were down along the main avenues. Today has been that just windy enough to blow your umbrella inside out, and just rainy enough to flood the pavements up to your ankles sort of weather. We got pretty soggy on the way home from school, but after so many weeks of scorchio sunshine it was great fun splashing in the puddles while the locals scurried for cover, and looked at us like we were quite mad.
Hopefully we shall have some more adventures for you soon, but right now i’m mostly just sleepy, so I’ll leave it at that. goodnight.