Trip Start Aug 12, 2009
58Trip End Jul 29, 2010
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Teaching English in China was a great learning experience. I learned how to cope with an apartment that was falling apart and full of mold, how to communicate with students that spoke very little English and how to adapt to a new country and new culture. China and America are very different. I could write an encyclopedia to describe my observations during these last ten months. This is a brief description of the experience of teaching English in China.
This semester I taught roughly nine classes a week. They were each one hour and a half minutes long and were divided into two forty-five minute periods. It was a lot more difficult than I thought. About two thirds of the class were interested and could actually understand what I was saying and the other third didn't care at all.
Teaching was very easy, but incredibly boring. Me and one other guy had an easy job, but our patience was tested. We were basically introductory Oral English teachers. We only taught each group of students twice all semester, so we saw a different
group of students everyday. This was miserable. By the end of each semester I dreaded going to class. I did nothing productive and was basically there as show and tell. It was tough for me and it had no impact on the students. We did not get a chance to build a relationship that would have helped improve their English.
The range of English ability was huge. Some classes such as engineering or Chinese literature were brilliant, while P.E. and Art were miserable. They generally had a decent vocabulary, but their speaking and comprehension skills were sub par. I spoke at a snails pace (which is hard for me) and I felt like I was teaching children.
My classes began with an introduction of myself and I showed pictures on my computer. I also talked about my family and my hometown. They loved this and were very intrigued about my life. I then had them do multiple activities where they wrote down, where they wanted to travel, they quizzed their partner on name hometown, favorite sport... and I played waiter while they ordered food. This was done with a little hangman in between activities and they loved the game. They had pretty decent vocabulary and they kicked my butt in hangman (once they actually understood the game)!! Lessons varied, but this was pretty standard.
On Sundays I taught a local high-schooler. He came to my apartment for about two hours and we just had conversations in English and I helped him with his homework. He was intelligent and worked 1,000 times harder than I ever did. One of our topics was the Chinese Education System. As many people know it is very grueling. Chinese students in America tend to do better than American students due to the incredible pressure from their parents. He wakes up at 6am, gets to school by 7:30 has eight forty-five min lesson then leaves at 5:30pm. He gets home at 6pm and eats dinner from 6-7pm then studies for about 3-5 hours. He said the minimum is 3 hours!! This goes on everyday Monday-Sunday, they have no weekends all month. At the end of the month they get a two day break, but he said he is still bogged down with homework on those days!! What a life!! He said the students' marks are high, but creativity and imagination are jeopardized
A very sad thing happened about two months into my stay. There were six people from Ghana doing an exchange teacher program. They taught a few English classes and learned Chinese. Unfortunately, one of the men passed away. He was 50 years old and he died of severe brain swelling. He complained of headaches, went to the hospital, left the hospital then got sick again. He died within 12 hours of his second trip to the hospital. We attended the funeral. It was very sad. This was an odd event during the last ten months.
This was a brief explanation of my first ten months in China.