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Memories, Fond And Not So Fond [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2016-6-29 11:01:58 |Display all floors
It is this time of the year again when pupils and students say "good bye" to their schools for two months ... and often join bootcamps where their school lives continue, albeit with classmates they do not know.

It also is the time when teachers finally breathe easier, looking forward to two months of holidays, travel. Or bootcamps where they continue the same type of chore but with different pupils.

My last summer camp lies a few years back, and my last job as a teacher in a college was even more years ago, so today I only want to refresh my memories of some of these years. Let me begin with a job that I left with very fond memories.

A few words about me: I taught for many years, in Hong Kong, in Guangdong, and I put in a stint in Europe too. In general, I found the younger the learner the more enthusiastic they were. Conversely speaking, the older they are, the more their ways are set, and that means less flexibility. I came to be noted for being very strict, more so than many liked; but I never failed in making them laugh. Humour is something rare in a Chinese classroom; to make them laugh about themselves proved to be very effective in motivating them to learn. How can you make them laugh about their mistakes? That is another challenge: you have to make them LISTEN to THEIR PEERS speaking. They are inured to listening to monologues in order to repeat them; to make them speak their own minds is quite a challenge for them as well as for a teacher. First I drew their attention to their grammar mistakes without correcting them; instead I had their peers correct their mistakes. I would insist on the subject agreeing with the verb, the famous "S trap when verbs end in "S" as in "does", "goes", "has". Then the tenses.  It takes quite some patience to drill some awareness into the learners but it inevitably succeeds. Then, they laughed out loud when one of them said "she" when he should have said "he" or vice versa, another common slipup due to language interference from Chinese.

One of my greatest joys was teaching in a middle school, where the oldest pupils were between 17 and 18 years old. I had 14 classes a week in three days twice a month, and 13 classes of 15 to 16-year-olds taught twice a month, a lot of repetitive work, but I really enjoyed it and seldom felt tired.

The Chinese teachers sat in the back of their classrooms observing me. I never had any butterflies in my stomach when an observer came to one of my classes. After some time I heard some feedback from them: a few at first thought I did not make my pupils speak enough. I told them their pupils couldn't handle English the way I needed them to. They first needed to learn to understand, then to act appropriately. If truth be told: these Chinese teachers couldn't speak English very well either. After about two months during which I taught their pupils to listen, to take notes and during which time I checked the notes hand-written by the pupils, things began to improve. Eventually most of the pupils could describe their home, talk about their ideal occupation etc. That changed the sceptic teachers' mind. I got their total support. Eventually the school principal asked me if I wanted to continue. Then he wanted to know if I had a special request. Yes, I had. If I could have a classroom of my own without desks. He agreed. The next semester I got a classroom to hold the usual 60 to 65 pupils; no desks were inside, just chairs, as I had requested.

And the pupils?
At the end of the first year, every class made a special effort at listening, speaking and interacting - just as if they wanted to tell me, We have learnt exactly what you have taught us. We want you to continue this way!

After I left a classroom, a girl rushed out behind me, calling "Teacher, teacher, please wait a minute..." She would then thank me for the lessons I had given her and her class, and say, "I really enjoyed learning English with you!"

This happened in six out of all the 14 classes, and some naughty boys too shook hands with me and said they hoped to see me again.

What can you get more out of a job well done? When people are grateful to you for educating them you have done your best, and if you enjoyed it get the most precious reward: satisfaction.  

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Post time 2016-6-29 12:57:15 |Display all floors
(To be continued).

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Post time 2016-7-1 16:26:22 |Display all floors
Can't wait to know more about the stories.
I have never believed the idea that people should take what they like as a job until I found one.

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Post time 2016-7-1 17:05:00 |Display all floors
Thank you for educating young ones not just language skills but also the insights into what is going around the world. Your languge skills are impeccable beyond the parochial sight of mine which caused my failure to recognize your excellency. please allow me to take back my inappropriate words and pay you full respect on what you had done and are doing to shape the world into a better place!

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Post time 2016-7-2 16:33:06 |Display all floors
Seneca should be careful not to turn his back on Jade Li and cwdy in case the big joss sticks offered as prayer by them cause an accident on his behind.

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Post time 2016-7-2 18:39:16 |Display all floors
Jade_Li Post time: 2016-7-1 16:26
Can't wait to know more about the stories.
I have never believed the idea that people should take wh ...

I will continue my narrative when circumstances permit.

Doing this work did immensely satisfy me throughout the years that I did it. Others burn out - I found that you quickly burn out in a Western school.

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Post time 2016-7-2 19:03:07 |Display all floors
seneca Post time: 2016-7-2 18:39
I will continue my narrative when circumstances permit.

Doing this work did immensely satisfy me ...

the younger the learner the more enthusiastic they were.
Humour
to make them laugh about themselves proved to be very effective in motivating them to learn
That changed the sceptic teachers' mind. I got their total support.Eventually the school principal asked me if I wanted to continue.
"I really enjoyed learning English with you!"

When people are grateful to you for educating them you have done your best, and if you enjoyed it get the most precious reward: satisfaction.  
freedom of thought and speech

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

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