Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shang Ke - Class Begins

Well, classes started Monday. I'm teaching the same students I had last semester, but my schedule is different. I've got more morning classes this time around, which means a lot more free time in the afternoons. Except Fridays, the latest I'm finished for the day is 11:30 am. Afterwards, I'll go get something to eat and do a little shopping, which puts me back at home no later than 2 with the whole rest of the day free. I'm in the process of figuring out how to productively spend my time. You'd be surprised how easy it is to spend an entire afternoon fooling around online! My goals are to study Chinese characters at least an hour a day, visit the gym three times per week, and study up about China- current events, etc- online whenever I can.

Classes are going fine so far. My 90 younger high school students are studying about "Going Shopping." I decided that this semester I will structure the class and hold the students accountable for learning by assigning homework and giving regular vocabulary quizzes. I'm also requiring each student to give at least one 1-minute speech in front of the class. We'll be working together on that for quite some time. This week, I had them learn 15 shopping-themed words, practice reading the book dialogues, and make up dialogues of their own. To lighten things up and have some fun, I'm thinking we'll play Charades and listen to some English songs in the near future as well.

My one class of college students is graduating in July! They'll all be looking for jobs throughout the semester; some of them already have part-time work and will be missing a lot of class. This term, I want to work on public speaking with them, as I feel that this will help increase their confidence in using English in a professional setting. The next couple of weeks, we're working on "persuasive speeches." Each students chose a topic, and I'm currently guiding them through the process of making an outline, writing their speech, and then giving it to the entire class.

This morning, we had a couple of small debates. I split the class into groups and gave them ten minutes to prepare a short speech on the subject provided ("College students should/ should not have a mandatory study hall at night," "Smoking should/ should not be allowed in China," "Morning exercises should/ should not be required," "Young people below age 21 should/ should not be allowed to drink alcohol"). They did surprisingly well with this, speaking eloquently and even getting a bit heated -voices raised, hands on hips- while rebutting each other's arguments... I think I have more than a few who would make excellent lawyers. I'm always very impressed by this group of students and their ability to confidently express themselves in a foreign language. They are much better students of English than I ever was of Italian/ Spanish/ Chinese in school!

As I was walking out at the end of class today, Dean (an outspoken, popular girl who functions as the "class clown") shouted, "JANET! LET US EMBRACE!" and ran over to give me a giant and very dramatic hug as the other girls applauded and giggled. :)

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