Teaching English in China.
I started teaching this week at the school. I have already had some interesting experiences! Everytime i enter the classroom, there is a great cheer and lots of clapping! I feel honoured to be in their school. They all call me Miss Sally which is so sweet, i will miss the class chorus of "Good Morning Miss Sally!!!" heehee!
There are some very keen students and some incredbly lazy ones. Surprisingly there are some who are very fluent with English and some who just seem to laugh when i ask them if they understand. The intellegent ones ask me, what are the cultural differences between your country and mine? I am taken a back sometimes by the level of intelligence of these 15 year olds!!!!
I started my lessons this week with a get to know the teacher session, which involves the students asking me, where i am from, how old am i, why on earth are you here in China? and also for my email address, telephone number or if i have a boyfriend. They are sooo nosey! One girl even wanted me to speak French to her, i asked why and she replied "because i already know English!" So, Bonjour it was!
The 4000 students in this school are aged from about 12 to 18. Their schedule is very tough. They start school at 7.30am and finish at 5.10 for their dinner. At 6.30pm they start the first of three evening classes (extra lessons which are compulsory) they then finish at 9.10. This is a standard day for many schools in China. On top of these days they also have homework. (the British teacher has won her classes round by not giving homework!!! Cos homework for them, means homework and marking for me!!) Did i mention that they are in school from Monday to Sunday??? Oh and no evening classes on Thursday or Saturday nights. Phew.
The sad thing is that these students can read and write English until the cows come home, but will not dare say a word of it. It is part of the Chinese education culture to sit there and listen to the teacher. Do what the teacher says and dont say a word. If they do speak it is reading a pointless list of words out of the dictionary together. The Chinese Education system does not include any interaction with the students. I managed to sit in on a level 3 English lesson being given by the best English teacher in the school the other day. Half way through i had to ask my friend whether it was infact an English lesson!!! 98% of it was in Chinese!!! This teacher graduated from Beijing University (best Uni in the country) with a degree in English!!!
These Chinese teachers generally say to me, Hello how are you? After my reply they smile and walk away. I have heard that they are quite embarrased by their lack of knowledge. There is also a silent financial issue. I am being paid considerably more than the other teachers here. I have also been given a nice clean apartment within the school. The other teachers live in very small shacks and apartments generally with their parents and thier children. Must be quite irritating for them.
A very important custom!!! - If you suggest to a chinese person, hey lets grab lunch or dinner later, bear in mind YOU will be PAYING for it!!!! If they invite you, they pay. I have fallen for this a fair few times!! Also, i suggested a karioke night, (this costs over 100 yuan, about 10 pounds?) so my teacher friend said yeah okay, whos paying? I was like, well we could all spilt it? She said ok, then later pulled out claiming that Chinese dont go double dutch on paying for stuff...
Anyway, so that is my first week of teaching. I am now off to make up my lesson for next week! (and sort my washing...)
Lots of love to everyone, keep the messages coming!!! xxxxx