We’ve been in China for a month! And what a crazy, wonderful, life-changing month this has been!
I’m sorry for the absence of posts the past couple of days – I realize my last post was not on the highest of notes. The past few days, however, have been good.
We had a very relaxing and uneventful weekend. We slept in on Saturday and Sunday, video chatted with various friends and family, rode around the city exploring on Kuai Long for almost four hours every day, and spent a lot of time at QLH lesson planning, catching up on emails, and talking with our Chinese friends, Johnson and Samantha. I even Facetimed from my iPhone while at the coffee shop with one of my good friends in Texas!
I spent a long time creating lists of English idioms and colloquial phrases to give to our friends studying English. I also gave them some lists of “American” movies, musicians, and books to look into and talk to us about.
The books I recommended (not all are American but lend themselves to good discussions about American culture):
Game of Thrones
Lost on Planet China by J Marten Troost
Bill Bryson books
Into the Wild
The Scarlet Letter
The Great Gatsby
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn & Tom Sawyer
Of Mice and Men
The Last of the Mohicans
Brave New World
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Widow of the South
The Da Vinci Code
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The movies we recommended:
The Sound of Music
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Singin’ in the Rain
Saving Private Ryan
Pirates of the Caribbean series
The Princess Bride
The Truman Show
Remember the Titans
V for Vendetta
Good Will Hunting
Harry Potter series
Batman movies (Dark Knight, Dark Knight Rises)
Shrek (all of them)
The Bourne Trilogy (Bourne Identity, Bourne Ultimatum, Bourne Supremacy)
Wizard of Oz
When Harry Met Sally
Last of the Mohicans
We’re in the process of planning a movie night when we can watch some of the movies and Duncan and I will cook “American” food, which in their mind always means BBQ. We’re thinking we’ll make some hot dogs, hamburgers, and maybe something like Mac’n’Cheese. What do you think we should make for our American meal?
It was a very grey, cold, and wet day today but it was great nonetheless! I’m afraid our fall might have been only this weekend and we’re already in winter. Today it was freezing outside!
Today’s classes definitely secured the sixth graders as my favorite classes. They are just so much fun to teach! To be honest, I think today was my best teaching day yet. Today I started teaching new material based on their “textbook” and we talked about different parts of the house and different kinds of food and meals. When I asked the kids “what do we eat for breakfast”, one boy stood up and confidently said “cake!” I asked him, “for breakfast?” and he responded with “dui, wo (yes, I do)”. I thought it was really funny and clever.
Rather than continuing to teach them rote memorization of vocabulary words, I had the kids try to construct their responses into “real-life” sentences such as “I eat breakfast in the morning” rather than “this is breakfast”. While teaching these sentences, however, I realized that these students, like many of our students, have difficulties with English words that end in hard consonant sounds like “white”, “red”, and “breakfast”. Few words in Mandarin end with hard consonant sounds so, out of habit, the kids we’re teaching end up pronouncing English words as “white-a”, “red-a”, and “breakfast-a”. In an attempt to get rid of the “a” sound at the end of breakfast, I started emphasizing the “t” and saying the ending really fast. The kids thought it was hilarious and started exaggerating by nodding and showing their teeth at the “t” at the end of “breakfast” but eventually got it right.
I also played a relay drawing game with the kids, which ensured that everyone participated and actively worked with the vocabulary. I put the kids into teams and then had one person from each team come up to the board at the same time. I then told them to draw a vocab word and whoever finished a recognizable drawing and labeled it correctly first won a point for their team. Though a very silly game, I think I was useful because it made them practice listening (they had to tell the difference between “closet” and “clock”), spelling, and assigning meaning to the words they’ve become very good at memorizing. It was great fun!
We’re doing very well here at the school. Teaching is a lot of fun and we love interacting with the kids. Now that they’re used to us, they are freely coming up to us in the hallways and trying to interact with us as best they can. All of Duncan’s little girls just want to give him kisses and walking down the hallway has become somewhat of a task for him because all of his students just want to climb all over him and give him hugs. My students try to have a conversation with me in English but end up running away giggling when they realize they can’t say much more than “I’m fine, and you”, try to figure out what my Kindle actually is (always surprised I’m reading an English book), and, for the younger students, try to coerce me into giving them more stamps outside of class.
We’re also doing very well here in Baoding and in China as a whole. We have a comfortable routine established and are very happy. Every day, in between and after classes, we practice the violin, study Chinese, and exercise somehow. We have a group of people we can regularly hang out with and we have a pretty good grasp of the city and where things are. It seems like most days we wake up smiling.
Tomorrow I teach seventh graders again. Let’s hope classes go half as well as they did today.
Until next time… Thanks for reading! 🙂