Survived my first week of model school! This is a two week program for us Peace Corp TEFL trainers to try lesson planning and teaching, to give us some experience before we head off to our universities to become full time English teachers mid august. I’ve already been warned that the level of English I will see here in Chengdu is much much higher than what I would get in the smaller towns we are placed in. I had a class of 24 rowdy high schoolers, though their numbers dwindled with each class.
They all speak pretty advanced English and some have lived outside China in the UK or USA for a couple years. a few are also planning on taking the TOEFL exam to do university in America, since the competition is way too intense in china. (ie studying from 8AM to 9PM or midnight everyday since middle school!) overall the kids are charming, funny, and I have enjoyed planning lessons for them. In particular, they (like me!) love to make posters with markers and express ideas through flowery art. A minor scuffle between two female students (I hope they were good friends prior to this incident) broke out over who gets to use the red marker. as punishment no one was allowed to use the red marker for the rest of class.
I gave my first two lessons, first one was about countries. We discussed wealth, population, religion, capital city, prime minister, GDP, GDP per capita and tourist sites. I asked the students where they would live outside of china if they had a choice. Surprisingly (To me at least), japan had more votes than any other country. I guess this new generation of Chinese born in 1998 – 2000 (wow, I feel old!) are much more forgiving than their parents and grandparents for the events that led up to and occurred throughout WWII, and they are eager to move on, and refuse to be mired in the past. They love the food, the cherry blossoms, spirited away and other miyazaki films, and friendliness of the Japanese. Many have visited japan and enjoyed their quiet and non-chaotic vacations. The next favored group of countries were all scandanavian or from that region (Sweden, Finland, Iceland) for the spectacular landscape, clean air, and low population density (one student commented ‘there is no food- we only have beautiful scenery!’).
new Zealand made an appearance on the list, for being the country where lord of the rings was filmed, and for ‘good quality milk’. i think most americans would dream of living in a country with a sandy, sunny, beach as the only criteria. for these kids, growing up with the intense pressure of a competitive education system + other social issues have impacted what type of life they want to seek. I later made the kids present on some of these countries (and threw in turkey and brazil into the mix, for middle eastern and south American representation. One student asked if the national food in turkey was turkey. No.)
It was a great lesson. The next one was about American holidays. The high schoolers were dying to have their first Halloween party. They want candy, they want costumes, they want fake blood, and loud music. They want Christmas for the presents, for the tree with blinking lights, and for the white, powdery snow outside. And one group was assigned Valentine’s Day, and I requested they have two scenarios- for those who are dating, and those who are single. The team came up with a FANTASTIC poster, explaining that “the most important thing for the people (whether couples or singles) is just BRAVERY!” “just be patient.. love is waiting for you!” for those who are single, “be brave to invite your dream lover!” and hold some parties for single friends so they could meet their future boyfriend or girlfriend on valentines day. so cute! and innocent, since none of them have dated, or their parents would probably ground them for life. one girl tried to act cool and said her parents wouldn’t care if she had a boyfriend in high school but i am 110% sure she was lying to me 🙂
Disclaimer: All opinions shared in this blog are the author’s own, and do not represent the views of any outside organization, including but not limited to the United States Government and the Peace Corps.