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Monday, 01 May 2006

Postcards from China - Page 2

Written by Betsy Quicksall
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The workload is extremely comfortable around here. With five different groups of students, we are able to use the same lesson plan all week long. On a Friday, this could result in a flawless execution of the lesson or a sick-and-tired-of-this-material drone. Of course we aim for the former.

Back to Class

Halfway through the week we had already met 100 new students each. I learned so much last term and was eager to get right into it on the first day with pronunciation drills and correcting verbal English every change I got.

We did pair interviews and introductions to warm up:

“This is Liu Bo. He—“


“Oh, yes, sorry. She is from a beautiful city called Wentai. His major—“

“Her major.”

“Her major is Civil Engineering.”

That scenario comes up a lot. In Chinese there is no distinguishing between the two. ‘He’ and ‘she’ are both said “ta”. Of course the characters are written differently.

Other than the, his/her/he/she agreement, I let everything else slide because some of the students are like hermit crabs. And my job is to coax them out of their shell, not to scare them all the back in to the darkest corner never to trust again. Just as I remember doing in Spanish class, many of my students try to become invisible by avoiding eye contact with me when it seems I am about to call on someone for an answer. As a student, I always thought it was subtle and effective, but from where the teacher stands, it can be a disheartening, or just funny. Suddenly, everyone in the room is checking to make sure his or her shoes are tied.

I might be standing next to a student, smiling right at them and saying, “Would you introduce your partner?” and they will still be trying very hard to look preoccupied and unaware of my presence, desperately hoping I will give up and move on to someone else. Finally, they will look up at me surprised, glance quickly side to side, blink a few times, point at themselves and ask: “Wo?” meaning "Me?" I feel the urge to laugh at the obviousness rising in my throat but let it translate only into a warm, encouraging smile. "Yes, you." Image

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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