Week 14 of teaching

It’s been getting hotter and hotter- as I write this it’s 32 degrees. Because you can’t always see the sun (thanks air pollution) it doesn’t always look like it’s going to be a hot day but once you’re outside you soon realise! Last Saturday a few of us went shopping at Chunxi market, where there are just tons of stalls crammed onto four floors. Probably not the best place to visit on a boiling Saturday afternoon but we just couldn’t keep away! It’s also a good place to practice your haggling skills and so I left with eyeliner, a top, and a necklace all for the equivalent of around Β£7 πŸ™‚ Later that evening, once we’d cooled down, the 11 of us went to Pete’s Tex Mex, I had quesadillas which were sooo good. Luckily they have a few more around the country so I’ll definitely be visiting there again at some point! After this we went across the road to Helen’s, as they were offering 10RMB (Β£1) tequilas. However when we left it started to rain so we dashed down the road into Shamrocks, which is where we seem to end up most weekends, and took advantage of their Β£1 shots as well. We spent a couple of hours here, then about 20 of us made our way to KTV via tuk-tuk. KTV is a bit like a club for you and your friends, basically you hire a room for a few hours and sing karaoke (very badly)- I’d only done it once before in Beijing so I wanted to go back! They had so many random songs to choose from, from Celine Dion to Westlife to Jedward. Anyway even though we were all in one room we made friends with groups in the other rooms and joined them as well, so after a while there were about 3 rooms we were going between! We were still going strong at 6am when the staff had to kick us out because our time was up.

So after we travelled back to our schools on the Sunday, the lack of sleep had caught up with me and I decided to nap around 7pm-ish and just deal with the consequences of messing up my sleeping pattern later. However I didn’t wake up again until 6am the next day so it was good because I’d caught up with my sleep but I was also really confused what day it was/what I needed to be doing! I had my final lessons at the primary school this week, and because we only taught until Wednesday, I had my Thursday and Friday classes pushed into Monday and Wednesday as well, so I had 4 classes on Monday and Wednesday and 2 on Tuesday. I’ve been trying to do something new or different with my activities every day and I’m glad I did this because my last class at the school went so well and was probably my favourite lesson yet, I actually wished I had a longer lesson with them!

I usually get ideas for activities on ESL teaching websites, but as the schools I visit only have a very basic English level, I usually can’t use about 95% of the games I read about. Loads of them look really good and interesting but unless they are very basic they’re of no use to me. Other times I might find a good game but I don’t know how I would explain it to the classes in a simple way. Anyway I discovered a game called Alphabet Soup which I’ve tried this week, where you basically have the alphabet/numbers/words from certain categories etc. written up in a random order and the first pupil to rub off the correct word I shout out gets a point for their team. It was only supposed to be a 5 minute warmer but they enjoyed it so much we played it for a good 10 minutes. During my training course we were told that you shouldn’t play games for over 10 minutes with younger years as they’ll lose attention; but I’ve found this is the complete opposite. Once they understand a game they don’t want to stop! I found that it was when I taught at high school that their attention faded quicker which makes more sense.

I was supposed to have Grade 6 as my first class on Tuesday but when the bell rang, the teacher ran in and said they were having an exam so I’d be teaching Grade 4 Class 1 instead, who I’ve taught before so I really had to think on my feet and make the lesson up as I went along! It was a bit messy doing that with a class of 60 8 year olds but luckily it still went well and I loved the adrenaline rush;) We played hangman and then I tried out the alphabet soup game which they loved but as it was the first time for me doing it it was a bit hectic as I was still trying to figure out the best way of doing it. One of the pupils from the other schools gave me an hourglass so I have also incorporated this into my lessons, which helps as they’re forced to give a quick answer rather than standing there for ages not saying anything! Some of the pupils on Wednesday also gave me a few presents which were sweet; a couple of bracelets, a red necklace, a poster, some chocolate in a jar, and a single marble! I’m teaching High School starting next Tuesday so it’s going to be a very different experience from what I’ve had here. On Wednesday evening the primary school took us out for a hotpot meal to say thank you and gave us a big box of Hersheys πŸ™‚ We drank bijou during the meal, a strong rice-wine, and they were so astonished when we asked for coke so we could mix the 2 drinks together… they just seem to drink their spirits straight out here so they were really weirded out to learn that we add a soft drink to dilute it!

So Thursday was the start of my 5 day weekend and I was determined to make the most of it. We visited the temple in Xindu, and then made our way over to a huge park where they had bands performing with traditional Chinese instruments. We ate dumplings for dinner (they are my favourite food out here, I’m going to miss them so much) and then by the time we got back to the school I was shattered from the heat so had an early night. However I was up early today for my 2nd day off today and I went into the city to visit Sichuan Museum. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t overly amazed by it, and I usually like museums! I know it sounds bad but I’m pretty certain there were ‘artefacts’ that had been reproduced and certainly not from the BC/early AD period as they had been dated. But hey what do I know, I only have a degree in ancient history πŸ˜‰ The taxi journey there was a bit of a ballache as well because the taxi driver was so confused at where I told him to go, even though I had written the address down and perfectly pronounced the musem in Chinese. I then decided to go for a wander once I left the museum and got really really lost- however I did pass a Tibetan market/community which was cool. By the time I eventually got back to the school I saw that they weren’t serving dinner (which was why I’d come back early arghh) so I went to a tiny restaurant that was nearby. This was probably the highlight of my day as they were extremely friendly, checked with me how much spice I’d like, and understood my Chinese!

Tomorrow I am going to Strawberry Music Festival for the day with a couple of the pupils from English Corner! Then I’m going out Saturday and Sunday night, and returning to school on the Monday as it’s a public holiday. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about next week so stay tuned ^_^

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