Stand and derivel

5 09 2009

So I finally completed my first week as a teacher – or basically, I have to do a couple introduction classes on Monday, but they don’t count really. And the verdict is … well, I think it went pretty well. I’d heard stories about how difficult the first few classes with Chinese students are. They don’t want to speak English, they’re shy with the foreign teachers, they tend to talk to themselves as a lot in Mandarin while a foreign teacher speaks. And all of those are true to an extent. Most of the kids were quiet the first day, and they seemed a little shy, and they did talk in Mandarin. But at the same time, they were eager to meet me, and once they talked a little bit, they loosened up noticeably. They spoke Mandarin to each other, but after I threatened to give them a red card (My own personal punishment, stolen from a British English teacher) for speaking Mandarin, they cut down on the talking somewhat.
I’m not sure if I’ve said this, but the kids range from 12 to 14, so I think you have to cut them a little bit of slack anyway. That’s generally considered the hardest age group to teach. I think there is the added benefit that they’re young enough that there aren’t any of those “I’m too cool for school” kids that you get in the later grades. At any rate, I’m impressed by Chinese students so far. They were completely willing to speak in halting English in front of the class, and their knowledge of the U.S. probably far exceeds their
counterparts IN AMERICA. That’s right, folks. I think that Chinese middle-school students probably know more about our country than our middle-school students. No wonder China is on the verge of taking over. I had, generally, at least one student in class who knew New Mexico on a map of the U.S. , and I defy a middle-school teacher in Georgia to prove the same. By and large the students have all been very respectful, and I managed to get some applause when I was introduced, and lots of hellos and goodbyes as well.
Anyway, I expect my abilities as a teacher to improve – hopefully. I did have one of my Chinese English teachers say that I seemed “very experienced” and that the students really liked me. I hope she’s right about the second part, because the first is definitely not true. This was from the class where one girl, in describing her friend to the class said something along the lines of “This is Katey. She thinks Jeremiah is fat. Her favorite color is blue…” Oh, kids.
– Jeremiah