I’ve updated you guys on some of my recent travels, but I figured I should also update you on some of my new students and classes this semester. Last semester I taught three courses for the second year students in my program. This semester I’m teaching three courses for the first year students. I still see the second years around, and miss them dearly, but the first year students’ energy and enthusiasm has been infectious. We’re halfway through the semester right now and I have to say I’m pretty pleased with how things have gone so far.
The hardest course to teach this semester has been “Survey of English Speaking Countries,” a very common course in China that hopes to cram history/culture from the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand into one semester. It’s a lot of content, but I’m trying to focus more on the culture of these different places, and the unique ways that they speak English. I’ve also added some other countries that have English as an official/national language, such as India, Nigeria and the Philippines. We have a textbook for the course that is pretty dense, so I’ve tried to come up with lots of group activities that encourage students to work with the material, rather than just reading and memorizing it. This has meant that we watched a silly video about Canada (Canadian, Please), tasted maple syrup, and had English breakfast tea with milk and sugar.
My second class this semester is American Society and Culture, which has been good, but not as great as I had hoped. The textbook (which I picked out in a rush) is not that great, and sometimes class seems disorganized. I think the students are enjoying learning about American holidays. None of them had heard of St. Patrick’s day before!
Lastly, my favorite class of the bunch, is called “Intermediate English Communicative” which I translated to mean a class that gives students lots of extra practice communicating and speaking English. We have an AMAZING textbook (Impact Issues 2 by Rost, Day, Shaules and Yamanaka) about controversial issues that really encourages students to state their opinions. It also provides everything I need for the lesson, including warm up questions, short passages, small group activities, and a final extension activity. It’s even better because I teach two sections, one with only 16 students and one with seven! Small classes= lots of chances for everyone to talk. We’ve discussed how food choices can impact the environment, family values, solving traffic problems, and the meaning of marriage.
Jess (another teacher in my program and my roommate) recently had her kids write a love letter to the person of their choosing. One of her students (who is also my student) wrote a very sweet letter to ME! 🙂 I decided it would be fun to share with you, because it made me smile, and because it gives you an idea of the kind of praise that Chinese students shower on their foreign teachers, (sometimes) regardless of actual teaching quality! It’s easy to get complacent when your students think that you are the coolest thing since sliced bread. But I take their praise and simply try to live up to it.
It also reminded me how nice it is to receive a letter of praise. I should think about writing some “love letters” myself!
Here it is, in all it’s gushing glory, without any corrections for grammar/spelling, although I did change her name.
You are a good teacher, I love you. I love your voice, your beautiful eyes, your sweet smile and your interesting lessons. Thanks for you to introduce so many interesting things of American culture, history and other interesting countries’ things. When I come into your lectures, I always fell energetic and enjoyable. I love your interesting teaching methods. At your class, I always feel I am not a student, and you are not a teacher. We are friends, and we are communicating in the class, sharing our thoughts and feelings. That’s wonderful. My heart melts at your feet. I also found we have many common interests, like sports and travelling. You are great! I hope one day I can travel with you.