Thursday, September 1, 2011

I feel like a local celebrity

My afternoon class went even better than my morning classes today. I would say they're about at the level of my first class, but I had learned a better way of getting them to talk by then, so I was able to get more English out of them.

I found out that the reason the kids weren't writing as many English words down as I hoped was because I hadn't given them enough direction. I wrote down on the board certain categories as examples -- colors, numbers, sports, and animals. When I went to collect papers from this class, at least half of them had written ten words down for each category. I felt much better about that. Now I know that I need to be more specific in the future.

There's one boy in class who is going to be my best friend. His English is much better than everyone else's, and he is able to speak loudly. When the people around him had problems understanding what I was saying, he helped them out. I didn't even have to ask.

There's one boy in this class who doesn't speak a word of English, either. I felt bad for him, because he clearly couldn't understand anything I was saying. I tried to help him using what little Chinese I knew. The students had all gone around the class and said, "My name is _________" with their actual names earlier, so he had done that. I'm pretty sure the boy next to him just told him what to say and he repeated it, though. After I had them choose an English name, and helped them out with writing some examples on the board, we went around the class again. They said, "My name is __________. My English name is _______" just like in my first class this  morning. This boy didn't understand. I walked back to talk to him, but walking through the class in China is always a toss-up. Chinese teachers apparently don't do it. I had done it earlier in class, so I hope that he knew I was coming to help him, not scold him. I told him in Chinese, "Wo jiao Miss Mary", or "My name is Miss Mary". He didn't understand. It very well could have been my accent, or that he was just too embarrased. I asked him, "ming ze?" or "name?" because I couldn't remember the full sentence for "What is your name?". The other boy was able to help him, and I finally got a quiet, "My name is Jim". I made sure to tell him very good job and smile a lot while I was helping him.

One of the boys chose the name "Mark" that I had written down on the board. I don't know if there's a word in Chinese that sounds similar and means something funny/rude/derogatory, but everyone in the class laughed when he said it. I made sure to tell them that he had said it correctly, and repeated "Mark".

Anyway, on to the reason I feel like a celebrity. After class, one of the girls came up to me to ask me for my cell phone number. I just went ahead and gave it to her, because she seemed quiet enough and like she knew some English. Then, she asked me to write my name on her notepad for her. No big deal.

Except, apparently it was. Within five seconds, the ENTIRE class had stormed my desk, holding out their English books for me to sign my name on the inside of the front cover. I just went ahead and did it, because, really...what else do you do in that situation?

I guess today was my 15 minutes of fame, China style.

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