That long post was quite brief and only brought me to Tuesday night. It’s now Thursday night and I’m on weekend time.
First back to yesterday (or Wednesday). We went to the bank. Three hours later we left the bank. What did we accomplish? Not much. Bank draft cashed? No. Traveller’s cheque’s cashed? No. Joint account created? No. There are no joint accounts. So I opened an account but I can have 2 ATM cards and give one to Shujie. However, that card only has access to the money I allot it. So if I have, for example, $1000 in my account she can’t touch any. If I give her card $300 then she has access to $300 and I have access to $700. Is that crazy? That was a rhetorical question.
They don’t cash bank drafts or traveller’s cheque’s here in Jurong so we’re off to Nanjing in the morning to do those very difficult bank transactions. Just plain crazy but part of the fun and joy of experiencing an advanced culture.
I went to the school offices for the 1st time yesterday and was introduced to an English teacher of the Chinese variety who told me what my classes were and how things work (sort of). Her English was terrible. She was very bad at listening so when I’d try to explain something she’d interrupt like she understood what I was about to say and had no clue what I was talking about. Was I impressed? That was another rhetorical question. I was depressed at the thought that they give students these kinds of teachers. Shujie’s English is better than hers.
I found out that I teach 2 different subjects that are different from what I was told before I came here. Not that I really care because I’ll just do my own thing and hope it works out. I teach “English Language Skills” and “Advanced English”. I’m not sure what that means but they give me a text book and I think the idea is to use the text book as a base and teach however I want. I think we agreed that I was going to focus on speaking and listening and they hope writing too. And pigs can fly.
I have 3 hours on Monday, 90 minutes on Tuesday, nothing on Wednesday, 4 1/2 hours on Thursday, and nothing on Friday. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. So yesterday I was set for my first day (today) with no plan other than the introduction stuff. I have 2 class groups. One of the classes I had for 3 hours today and the other for 90 minutes.
Last night I got this blog up and I’m using WordPress as opposed to Blogger because Blogger is blocked in China. Go figure. I’ll play with the appearance for a while until I’m happy but the header picture limitations are beyond my abilities to format a picture I want to fit (short and wide).
So today was day one. We did introductions which is always exciting. I try to coax some laughs out of the students. But I must say, I’m not impressed. Their English level is not that good. I wasn’t expecting experts but I thought 2nd year college students would have a clue. A few do but some of them appear to know next to nothing. I make everyone talk the first day and some talk more than others. “My name is Dreaming (I’m not kidding. The English names they give themselves are amazing). I’m 20 years old. There are 3 people in my family. My father, my mother, me. Thank you.” But the idea is to try and get them comfortable speaking English. Asians are very shy about speaking a language they haven’t mastered. And they speak so softly. They probably think I’m deaf.
I told them there were 3 rules. No cell phone use or I’d throw it out the window. (That was a lie as I only take it away for the class). No talking when others are talking. They’re quieter than middle school kids but they don’t pay attention. And, ask questions. They don’t. I’ll try and make them comfortable but it will take a while. I got a few laughs as I want them relaxed. I need to find out what to do with those I think talk too much. I told the students to either pay attention or to sleep. I don’t care if they sleep because they’re quiet then.
I have 37 kids in one class and 30 kids in the other. They’re just babies. I try and explain to them why I’m here (not for the money) and it’s their job to teach me about China, themselves, the culture, life for a student and so on. I try and tell them it’s not just about English, it’s about thinking. I’m not sure they have grasped that concept yet. And I tell them that I’m the only foreigner around who they can speak English with so they should take advantage of that. This school is looking for another foreign English teacher and good luck to them. The younger ones usually want the big city.
I also gave out my preliminary test which isn’t a test and I try and let them know that. I give them 25 questions to get some idea of their knowledge of the outside world, history, current events and what they think about things. Some of them knew Steven Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada. One of the kids wanted to be “King of the World”. Mao was the most admired Chinese person they knew of. (I kept quiet about how I think he was nothing more than a mass murderer).
So tomorrow morning it’s off to Nanjing (population about 7 million). We’ll bank. We’ll get something so the sim card in my IPhone can be changed here. The teacher/student special rate for the cell phone is 200 minutes (country wide), 1GB Internet, and 300 messages for about $4.50 a month. It’s a little cheaper here.
I have a video of the test taking but that has another hour to go before it’s posted so it will have to wait. It’s time to sleep (or try to).