It’s Wednesday and another day off. Yesterday was Tuesday where I only have one class from 8AM until 9:30AM. When I got home I was so tired that I slept for close to 4 hours. Why? I have a few theories on this.
- The bed and it’s discomfort not allowing me to get a restful night’s sleep. Where is Sealy Posturepedic when you need it?
- The fact that I’m blasted out of my sleep at 6:21 every morning. I’ll have to record the noise and put it on the site in case you feel like marching around.
- I work hard. That sounds almost silly for me to say as I’m not what you would call a hard worker. When I’ve worked “hard”, it usually is because I’m into what I’m doing and it doesn’t feel like work. The first 10 years of computer analysis and programming were like that.
- I actually care about the job I’m doing. My two previous foreign English teaching positions were basically exercises in frustration with the kids talking all the time and no way I could stop them. I think I basically threw up my hands and said, “so what”. I wasn’t going to let myself get angry but I also wasn’t going to bang my head against the wall.
My problem here is that the kids don’t put up their hands to answer. They don’t even put up their hands for questions that just require a yes or no answer. If I call them by name, most of them stand up and answer. I think it might be shyness or just foreign teaching methods. I’m not sure and the Chinese English teachers are people I don’t really trust to tell me the unvarnished truth. After all, these kids speak in all their classes in English. Just like I speak Chinese in all my classes.
There was a girl student named Christine who showed Shujie and I around the campus on the first day. She’s a shy girl and when we started we could see she was embarrassed about her English and wasn’t really thrilled about speaking. We spent an hour with her and after an hour you could see her comfort level went way up and she was speaking as much as listening. It was an informative and great experience for me. Of course, it was frustrating too because I don’t have an hour to walk around with each student.
When Christine is in class she rarely speaks. She never volunteers but will reply when asked a direct question. She was the girl who called me to get my teacher’s day gift (fruit basket) and when I got to the teacher’s room where there were the Chinese English teacher’s, she was too shy to speak. So, it’s not me because she can talk to me one on one. It’s having other people around, especially other teacher’s that is a problem.
On Monday she sent me a text message wishing me a happy mid-Autumn festival and I replied that I wished the same to her and her family. It was very nice of her to send the message. I wonder if she sent it because she’s a nice girl, or because she likes me. I really don’t know but either way it was a nice thought.
She’s the only student of mine that has my phone number, so she’s the only one who could text me. I won’t be giving out my number unless asked. It’s not that I don’t want anyone to contact me, it’s just that I don’t want anyone to contact me.
Yesterday I asked the class to show me what they had written in preparation for their 30-second talks. You think it would kill some of these kids to have a notebook to write things in instead of scrap pieces of paper. Out of 30 students, two did nothing and I suspect a couple of just jotting down a note or two at the beginning of class. Of the two that had nothing, one was a disappointment and the other one is just someone who I will ignore all year because his English is limited to the word “hello”, if that much. He is beyond teaching and there is no point in embarrassing him unless he becomes a disturbance.
Two of the students said they had nothing written down because they had prepared mentally what they were going to say so they didn’t need notes. One of them I trusted because he’s shown himself to be a knowledgeable student while the other was an unknown. I called on him first to address the class and he was prepared. I was pleased.
I had 5 people speak. They go to the front of the class and I sit at the back. I thought hearing them would be a huge problem but they all projected which they don’t do when they are answering questions. I was pleased. I guess what they said was okay but to be honest I didn’t understand most of what they said. Their accents are quite thick and with the sound problems it’s very difficult for me to understand. I don’t know how I’m going to improve the diction of so many students. I’m starting to slowly correct their words and I’ve learned with Shujie that the biggest problem is getting the Chinese to open their mouths. The Chinese language doesn’t seem to require an open mouth as much as English. The ability to understand Shujie improves over 50% if she opens her mouth during speaking. I will keep on emphasizing that.
No students took notes while these kids were speaking and no students asked any questions. That’s fine. When they get the first test which will be questions about what they spoke about (i.e. How long has Ayala had her best friend?) we’ll see who can answer that. I’m guessing their note-taking skills and studying skills are horrible. They will be getting homework from me almost every class and most of it will revolve around them writing and speaking on some topic. I hope they catch on as time goes by.
So I’m starting to believe this year doesn’t have to be a disaster. I would honestly say I failed at my two previous attempts at teaching English and I have no desire to fail again. I actually want to succeed and am willing to work at it.
The Internet here sucks. Sucks is a technical term for “really horrible”. Sometimes you can wait forever for a page to load. Who knows what’s blocked day to day. I went to purchase something for a game online yesterday and I couldn’t get to the checkout page. Weird stuff. I went to buy a book at Barnes and Noble’s website and I couldn’t because even though my credit card is okay, I have to physically be in the U.S. or Canada to buy it. That makes no sense and is not Amazon’s policy. I had my sister buy it so it could be delivered to my Ipad.
I took the free trial of NFL Gameday, which lets you see all the football games. You can see them while they’re being played (which won’t happen due to the time difference) or from the archives. I watched most of the Patriots-Dolphins game and I was quite impressed with the streaming, and the picture quality. It was just like being home and lying on the couch. The only difference was that I was awake. I have to think whether I want to keep it. I’m not a huge football fan and I used it mostly as a napping tool, but it’s a small touch of the “old country”.
As I said today is no school. Shujie has 3 job interviews lined up. One is this afternoon and 2 are tomorrow. They are with “English Academies” which are after-school English lessons. Her English is probably worse than some teachers and better than others. I think she would be quite good at teaching the younger kids. The only problem is that it’s a late afternoon/evening job and it might require weekends. I was dead set against these hours but I think late afternoon/evening will be fine but I’m not too much in favour of weekends as I hope we can do some travelling without problems. She says it will be hard to get a job in this small town (population 600,000) but we’ll see. She’s not afraid to pound the pavement. I told her that in a day or two she should start making waves at the school with the person she gave her resume to. After all, if they hire her, it will keep me happy. And they want me happy, I think.
So this job roughly works out to $33.33 a day based on a 30-day month. It also works out to about $25.50 an hour. The hourly rate sounds good but I only have 9 hours a week and if the hours increase, the hourly rate goes down. I could go with Shujie to her interviews and I’m sure they would hire us as a package deal but I have no desire to teach little kids. I can see doing high school to adult students if the pay was right a couple of nights a week. Shujie says the interview this afternoon is for a very low paying position so I think I’ll skip it. I have classes tomorrow but if she’s interested I can let her know that she can throw me into the deal. I have a feeling I’m the only white guy for miles around.