Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Crazy days and even crazier nights...

I really can't believe how fast the time is going here! I keep thinking, 'oh, I better write a super quick blog post so I don't forget what's been happening', but then the days just all seem to blend together and I never get round to it!

Anyway, enough of that. I've been at my school for nearly three weeks now, and it's been a bit of a learning curve to say the least. Firstly, you know that one assistant I said could speak English? Well, she's quit. So communication in the classroom is...interesting to say the least. Whenever a child starts gabbling away to me in Chinese, I simply say 'yes' and then walk away...hopefully they're not asking me anything too important...on the plus side, the other teachers seem to be warming up to us more now - one of them threw a ball at me today (not deliberately trying to knock me out or anything btw, we were playing a game with the students) and there's another teacher who does her best to speak English to me to explain things, which I'm so grateful for. So there may be hope yet that I might get to make friends with them! Although one of them keeps asking me while I smile all the time...even when I'm not looking at her...and I'm like, but I don't, do I?! It's very odd...I don't know how smiling would offend anyone!

We had an 'open house' day today, where all the parents came in just to watch our english lessons being taught - great. On the plus side though, the lessons were only 20 minutes instead of an hour, and strangely, even though I despise giving presentations and would do anything to get out of doing them at uni/work, being at the front of a classroom with 25 kids and god know how many parents filming me, it really didn't bother me that much. Who would have thought it! On the downside, that meant that for the rest of the day, the Chinese teachers had to put up with masses of crying/screaming children when the parents went home - I didn't envy them one bit! We had to do a normal lesson in the afternoon, but as only half the class was there (the others had gone home early with their parents), we just played games and got to know them all a bit better, and it was actually kinda nice!

Oh yeah, and one of my kids is now proudly called Frodo. Whoops.

I've also been on my first night out in Beijing! Let me tell you something - Chinese clubs are simply mental. When we walked in, we saw a guy in a robe (which covered his face btw) doing a dance on a stage with lasers...and every hour after that, a different act would pop up somewhere randomly in the club (mainly by our table though, come to think of it!) - we had rappers, and singers, and a dance group that were dressed entirely in black, but had neon stripes on their outfits, and the lights would flash as they danced. In this particular club, you got shown to a table, and you'd get a huge bowl of free fruit! And that's as well as free whiskey - well, I say whiskey, it wasn't really whiskey - it was a really weak/fake whiskey mixed with apple juice....and you drank it in so random! But it was a really good night, and that weird whiskey stuff can get you nicely tipsy if you drink enough of it! Oh yeah, and on a minor note - a Chinese girl kinda came on to me...y'know, as you other Chinese friends can't agreed on whether it was because I'm foreign and she simply wanted to be friends (though there is a VERY fine line between over-friendliness and just being plain creepy), or if she actually was a lesbian....

Think that's all my news for now - we have tomorrow and Friday off, hooray! But it does mean that we have to work Sunday to make up for it :(. Hopefully I'll be going to check out some more Beijing sights, though I might give the nightclubs a miss for now  - I'll keep you posted!


Saturday, 7 September 2013

First week impressions...

It's strange to think I've already been in Beijing for a week (well, technically just over if you count the couple of days we all spent at the Open University before we all got shipped out to our placements) - I really don't know where the time has gone!!

The first half of this week was spent observing the other English teachers at our kindergarten, to see how we should construct our own lessons. On Tuesday, me and Drew (the guy I'm living with and who is at the same school as me) taught a lesson together, and on Wednesday I taught a lesson by myself for the first time!! Not gonna lie, it was's a mental note to all other TEFL teachers out there - do not attempt to teach a class of 30 6 year olds the game 'fruit salad' will not end well...

Me and Drew started teaching properly on Thursday with our own classes, that we will be teaching from now on. However, one of my classes had to be stopped until next week - the students in my class are 2 years old and have just started kindergarten - we went in to meet them on Tuesday, but as soon as they saw us, half of them burst into tears and started screaming, and the other half just gaped at when I said 'hello'....the next few weeks are going to be interesting! Luckily, the other class I'm teaching, I will be teaching with Drew, and as they're a bit older, they should be easier to manage!

The school is nice, and now that the students are getting used to seeing us everyday, they're becoming friendlier and even shouting 'hello' to us in the corridors. The only slightly frustrating thing I find is that only one out of all the Chinese teachers at the school speaks a little whenever we try to introduce the kids to a new activity, we either need our English contact (Rita) there with us, or we need to type the instructions into a translator so the assistants can understand what we are saying and can tell the students what to do. Ah well, hopefully by the end of the five months, the kids will understand enough English to know what we are saying!

I'm a bit annoyed at myself this weekend - I was supposed to going to see the Summer Palace yesterday with James, and meeting up with Holly after she finished work in the evening - but all week I've come down with a horrible cold, which meant I've been stuck inside the flat all weekend! Feeling a bit better today, so hopefully I'll be feeling well enough to get out and explore a bit more of Beijing next week instead - I guess there's no rush - I am here for five months after all!

Now that we have wifi in the flat, I'll hopefully be able to upload some photos of my time in China so far to Facebook :) - watch this space!

Until next time, zaijian!