Sunday, September 4, 2011

Teaching English to "advanced" Chinese students

This morning, I taught three classes back-to-back. First, I taught two sections of "advanced" sixth grade students, followed by my first class of seventh graders.

I was doubting how "advanced" the sixth graders were, just because I find it hard to believe that one group of students can be advanced in everything. Plus, being advanced in classes that are taught in your native language and being advanced in learning a new language are two different things.

I was pleasantly surprised, though, at the amount of English these kids knew. I wouldn't say they were drastically different from my "regular" sixth grade classes, but they definitely knew more English, and caught on to what I was trying to get them to do more quickly.

In terms of the students, I have met my Chinese mini-me. This girl is a total smart ass, but she's very smart. She was goofing off completely at the beginning of class. When I first walked in, while it was still passing period, she came up to my desk and stared straight at me for a full minute, without saying anything. Then, she just said, "You are very beautiful". A few seconds later, she came running up to my desk and held her arm next to mine to compare our skin tones. It was extremely odd. I figured she was just going to be a trouble maker, because she was going around the classroom and pretend fighting with the boys before class. Once class started, though, she was one of the few who caught on to what I was saying almost instantly. After class, she came up to me and gave me a HUGE hug and told me that I was her favorite teacher. I still don't really know what to make of this girl.

This was the first class that I got to have make a list of words that they thought of when they heard "America". Most of my other classes could barely get the hang of picking out an English name, let alone making a list of words.

The funniest part of the list was that I had at least three kids yell out, "good whiskey!" for words that reminded them of America. Well...

Unfortunately, the seventh grade period I taught was not my favorite. It was the period right before lunch, and they were evil little children. I actually had to yell at them. That was the first class I had to yell at ANYONE. They just would not shut up. I wanted to yell that at them as well, but I held my tongue. (See, Blondie, I can control myself).

I'm planning on trying to play more games and things with them, to get them up and moving around. That way, they'll still be learning English, but it doesn't require them to just sit in their desks and be quiet and/or talk one at a time.

Oh, I have one kid who sits in the front row, and he insists on being called Big Bad Egg. Alright. Cool. I bet he's gonna be really sick of that name by the time November rolls around. I plan on calling him that the entire semester.

My seventh graders are also obsessed with WWE wrestling. I'm pretty sure I have at least three kids who named themselves after famous wrestlers. "John Cena" was one of the first words they said when I asked them what reminded them of America. Cool.

Other fun names I encountered:
- Flack
- Winter
- Ice
- Taxi
- Angle (supposed to be Angel)
- Spring
- White
- Westwood
- JK Rowling

They're pretty tame compared to what the other teachers have had. I'm still holding out hope that my classes next week have some real gems in them.

Other class observations:
- Every student has like 5 white out pens. They use them religiously.
- Almost every single girl has short hair
- The uniforms are lavender track suits. The girls have white and red stripes on their tracksuits; the boys have black and yellow stripes on their tracksuits. The boys also have an option of dress pants with this baby blue colored school polo. The girls can wear a navy skirt with a short sleeved white dress shirt that has navy and baby blue stripes and a bow at the neck.

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