China Team Journal

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Last Full Day

Today was our last full day of teaching. Alyssa and Patricia both began with using the rhyming cards to match students up with a partner. They then worked together to write a sentence using their two rhymes. Then they spent some time practicing reading their animal card, looking up words they didn’t know and learning to pronounce difficult words.  They then took turns reading the cards to the class.  The class developed a question and they found the answer on the card.

Then we introduced words associated with clothing along with color words. After modeling the phrase, “She is wearing __________.”  Students chose a picture from a magazine to describe with their partner. They used the words on the board which had pictures drawn next to them to describe the person’s clothing in their picture. After practicing with their partner they shared it with the class. When all had finished we learned the song, “It’s a Small World.”  Then Alyssa shared a dance with them and they shared a dance with us.

During the lunch break we were treated to a lesson at a local restaurant in dumpling making.  It was fun to try to make the dumplings as neatly as the chef. Again, we felt honored to be given another genuine experience of Chinese culture.

Monday, April 15, 2013

An Unexpected Day

Today we were surprised to find that only two students showed up for class. Monday is the second day of their weekend and this class was optional. Our initial disappointment dissolved as we made the decision that Marcia would work with the 7 year old visitor we had and Alyssa and Patricia would work together with the two girls who were quite advanced and willing to put forth a good effort. We started with reading the information on the animal cards and clarifying unfamiliar vocabulary as well as pronunciation. We then wrote out questions and the girls took turns answering. After a fun group hokey pokey break, we resumed with listing types of clothing and then describing the clothes that people were wearing in fashion magazines.  As we proceeded we found more and more interesting vocabulary was needed to describe the clothes. We concluded the morning by introducing, explaining and singing “It’s a Small World.”  We then were whisked away to a village outside of Xi’an for a lunch in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Liu.  Mr. Liu is the head of a grass roots performing group in the village and they were very gracious and appreciative of us for coming to China as volunteers. They gave many speeches and we each talked about ourselves. We then had a lunch with abundant traditional dishes.  Then the members of the performing arts group entertained us. There was a variety of acts including many singers and one outrageously costumed male masked dancer. They insisted that we perform as well, so Alyssa did her dance, much to their delight and the three of us sang, “It’s a Small World”.  After many photographs we moved on to a calligraphy artist’s studio where he made each of us a large calligraphy. Each was different but all were about peace and harmony and universal love. After many more photos we moved on to visit a smaller village which was subsidized by the government as a tourist attraction for its production of apricots. The trees were not in bloom but had small green fruit just forming. Next we went to another government subsidized village which was still constructing its old world attraction. As you walk the street you can see many exhibits of cooking and crafts just as they were done many years ago. It was a long well planned day that truly enhanced our understanding of Chinese culture and of the

Friday, April 12, 2013

Satisfying Teaching Experience

Today was again a satisfying teaching experience for all three of us. Our groups were more mature and attentive and put forth an excellent effort. I introduced myself with the true and false game and then allowed them to have a turn which lightened the mood and created some laughs. We then spent a lot of time on adjectives, describing animals which I had vivid pictures of. We reviewed the adjectives, explained meaning and practiced pronunciation. Then I wrote some riddles on the board with three sentences. The students read the clues and guessed the animal. Then they wrote their own riddles. Some of the students struggled with this, but with assistance they succeeded. They took turns putting them on the board.  Then I introduced body parts and action words. We reviewed these and played a simple game of “Simon Says.”  Several of the students danced during the break and one sang a beautiful song. The students seemed very happy to be a part of the sessions and it was an enjoyable day for all.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Word Games

Marcia did the usual word frame introduction. I then paired the students and had them read to each other about the animal.  The teacher and I walked around the room reading with the students pronouncing and defining unfamiliar words.  There is a huge gap between recognizing the written word and being able to speak it. Creating simple sentences was difficult for the students, but we practiced what and where and I used rhyming words to pair students. There are a great deal of flash cards with rhyming words (and pictures of the object).  The students had to write one sentence using both words. Adjective exercises: We made a list of adjectives describing friends. These were listed, pronounced and explained. The students picked a trait and used a sentence with the adjective that described their friend. I then asked questions like – “Who is more _______, you or your friend?  Give me an example of how your friend is kind etc.”

We played charades with very simple words (also written in Chinese – sad, angry, shopping, dancing, ping pong, old. My afternoon class was really enthusiastic and quite good at performing. I had a few extra words and there were several volunteers to act these out. Right after one break two students danced to music for the class (volunteered). They danced beautifully and gracefully. Later the class (all girls) sang me a song.

We also visited their dorm rooms (4-6 to a room, compact) saw their laundry facilities and passed the medical building, restaurant/supermarket and showers. We went with several of the staff, as well as, Baoli and Julia to a very tasty lunch. We learned that in their culture when toasting you always try to have your glass lower than the other person’s to show respect. Often they will tap their glass (the lowest you can get) on the table.

We had dinner at a noodle restaurant.  We drank “noodle water”, a first for Americans.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Positive Day

Today was a very successful day in the classrooms.  Each of the team members was pleased with the behavior and the attitude of the students. They all seemed to try their best and were respectful. Julia placed an adult assistant in each room to help, particularly with explaining directions in Chinese if necessary. In my class I introduced myself with photos of Oregon and then I put statements on the board about me. Students guessed if they were true or false or correct or incorrect. They enjoyed this and then they each wrote three sentences about themselves and the class guessed whether they were true or false. This provided an opportunity to get to know one another as well as to correct some wording such as putting “to” before the verb and sometimes interjecting other necessary words. I then showed them some animal cards one by one and we wrote adjectives to describe them, practicing the pronunciation and clarifying meaning. Next I wrote some riddles using the adjectives listed.  They did well guessing the animal. Then they each wrote a riddle and we all guessed it. With the little time left, I shared my experiences in Xi’an and what I’ve been enjoying and tried to speak a bit of Chinese. We then took pictures and ended on a very positive note. Alyssa shared her dancing abilities with her students and they in turn with much delight showed her their love of dance. Marcia engaged her students in a stimulating travel adventure experience which made their time especially fun.  All team members felt positive about their time today in that there were warm moments and laughter in all the classes.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Everyone Qualifies

Today our entire team qualifies as good teachers!! We all are feeling that we know little about these students and how to reach them. We taught three sessions in the morning and three sessions in the afternoon.  It felt like a long and difficult day. The students we had today were much lower than the “English Lovers” and we had not expected that. In the morning, Alyssa and Marcia had groups that, though low, were trying to do their best, whereas Patricia had 14 young men who seemed that they did not want to be there. They acted silly. Many did not bring paper or pens to class.  They played on their cell phones and they were disrespectful as learners.  It was frustrating to try to reach them.  In the afternoon the experience was reversed as Patricia had a respectful, though low class and Alyssa and Marcia had students that acted like they did not want to be there with poor, immature behavior. These students were secondary students in their late teens.  All three of us were discouraged by today’s teaching experiences.  We discussed our concerns with Julia and Baoli who were both supportive and understanding.  We talked about having an adult helper in each class who could translate and keep the behavior under control. We also talked about having students put all cell phones on a table away from the work area and about not dividing the classes by ability. It seemed like all the lowest students were put together which makes the class impossible to work with without a Chinese translator. Julia suggested that we might replace these classes with ones who might do a better job but we all agreed that it would not be fair to those who did try to do their best. We decided, however, to shorten the day to two periods in the afternoon, rather than three since that was an added on period and many students left before the last session. As inexperienced teachers, we all had our struggles to make the time worthwhile. Julia assured us though that the rest of the week would be better as there would be higher level students.

English Lovers

Today was a voluntary class for students who are “English Lovers”.  Alyssa had 8 students, Patricia had 4 and I had 5.  I do not have a teaching background, so I worry a little about lesson plans.  I am very fortunate because there is one young lady whose English is quite good.  She helps in class, especially in giving directions.  I start by introducing myself, Marcia Wilson, from Chicago.  I then write 6 statements on the board, having the students read the statements aloud.  I also review vocabulary.  Five statements are true and one is false.  Activity 1 – I pass out slips of paper with environments written on them – forest, desert, jungle, ocean, mountain etc.  Students choose blindly.  They must draw a picture of the environment and then describe the picture to the class.  They seem to enjoy this.  I want to buy larger pieces of paper and colored pencils to enhance this activity.  Activity 2 – I give a sentence frame and students introduce themselves and the person next to them.  “My name is ___________.  __________is my friend.  He/she likes to ___________.  He/she does not like to _________.   Activity 4 – I provide maps of the world and the U.S.  Sentence frame – “If I had time and money, I would travel to ___________.  I would like to see ___________.  I would like to do ___________.  I would like to learn to ___________.  Pairs work together.  Also I wrote questions:  Why, How, What, When.  They picked destinations, something to see, activities to do.  Later they had to draw or act out the activity (only I chose to “act out” the activity.  The others drew.)  As a group, they decided which ten things they should pack in their suitcases.  We worked with opposites (very simple words).

Monday, April 8, 2013

First Day

We had an early start, meeting Julia, the foreign affairs administrator, at the school and learning about the various opportunities students have at the college to choose from, such as pharmacist, dental hygienist, chiropractor, and others.  We introduced ourselves and learned more about the Global Volunteer Program, its goals, philosophy, and the twelve essential services.  We met with the president of the school and received a warm welcome from him.  We worked on team goals and came up with three:  to connect with students, to encourage English, and to appreciate Chinese culture. Important safety recommendations were shared by Wang Baoli.  We then assigned jobs to the team:  journal manager, health and safety co-coordinator, free time co-coordinator and final celebration co-coordinator.   We then spent some time planning lessons for the next day.  Volunteers and students arrived to welcome us and they shared some things about themselves.  Some of them did remarkable singing performances and then we spent time conversing with them in English which gave us good insight into their speaking and comprehension abilities which in turn will make it easier to plan our lessons appropriately.