Teaching my peers in China

4 10 2005

The first day I went to teach there was a mix up about which room I was supposed to teach, so the graceful entrance I was hoping for was totally shot. I had about 24 junior marketing students and throughout the period there was a number of goings and comings. One girl didn’t show up till about 5 minutes before it was over. Of course she could have thought I was still going to teach for another 45 min like all the rest of the students. We had been told to prepare material for one period and discovered on the bus ride over to the Eastern Campus that they’d be expecting two. The week before we had gone over to Eastern Campus expecting to do a short fifteen minute introduction and spent the evening playing games with a few students from each class. We were told that the students that were assigned to us that evening would be our “aids”, and most of us found later that they weren’t even in our classes. So patients is the name of the game.
During my first class I introduced myself and then asked the students to pair up and interview each other about their Chinese name, English name, hometown, and favorite color. I then had each group introduce their partners to the whole class. Alot of the class wouldn’t concentrate during this! They were chatting with each other, and I had trouble hearing. Especially because the students talked too quickly.
During my second class I “laid down the law” a bit and asked them to be on time, that it’s important to use english as the first means of communication and that Chinese should be a last resort. I also tried to instill the idea that listening to each other was important. I talked about family relations during that class, and could tell that when I split them up into groups (I tried to mix them up some, but that sort of failed) that they still talked to each other in Chinese. Then when they seemed to be done, and I regained their attention I asked a pair of guys in the back to share what they had learned about each other’s families. I stood at the front for a few minutes thinking that they would eventually get up and start talking…. when they didn’t, I walked back and asked them what the problem was and after a bit figured out that they hadn’t done it. So then I tried to get the rest of the class’ attention only to find that half the class wouldn’t stop talking, so I tried the “when I raise my hand, raise yours and shut up” trick from like 2nd grade, and I explained it several times, and the quicker students explained it around to the rest of the class in Chinese, but only like 5 students would do it! That’s when I used my stern voice for the first time. I told them that their behavior was not acceptable, and that I was sorry if there was something cultural that I didn’t understand, but that if I was going to teach them I needed them to pay attention and do what I asked of them. For the first time the whole class there was total silence and I felt like a teach for the first time. The rest of the period was spent talking more in-depth about family relations including step and half siblings. And then talking about typical Chinese families, a bit about the one child policy, and then creating an imaginary family tree. They seemed to enjoy that, but I have a feeling that they might not really respect me, and think that I’m wasting their time. Maybe next time will be better. I hope.




One response

5 10 2005

Hang in there Steph! It sort of reminds me of all the language classes I’ve been in. The teacher wants you to speak the language, but it’s just so dang HARD you resort to the familier. And your with your friends, so you tend to get off topic. I hope it goes better for you, though. Good luck!!

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