Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Teaching EngRish


So here's a post that actually shows I've been up to more than just taking pictures and stuffing my face with random things...The schools I’ve been teaching English at have been awesome – but very different than what I expected. At first I questioned how much I was actually needed…but after learning about their current school system which had English removed from the curriculum with the rejoining of China – which left only the wealthy schools to afford English teachers – and then seeing how much they appreciate this kind of work…I was assured I was in the right place – which of course, is always great to know!

Over the years, in preparation to one day become a teacher (a dead dream my Dad is still in denial about – he's not even in the mourning faze of that ambition but seems to refuse to believe I've laid it to rest...he'll come around - it's a work in progress ( ;), Dad)) I figured I’d have enough stuff to pull from when standing in front of these uniform children. But all my years doing co-op and supply work and camp and leading were set aside for this. I am sure it helped me some...but honestly teaching without being able to actually teach with your words where silliness is suppressed, is harder than it actually sounds (does it sound easy?).

But trust me – feeling like you're bobbing up and down looking like a bumbling idiot in front of kids who just don't understand the words coming out of your mouth - is actually fun when you finally realize things are sinking in. Like when you take pleasure in getting them to laugh with you (not at you, though I take that too), and having them finally shout out "Purple!!" or "Nose" at something actually purple or actually their nose.

I have gotten used to over-enunciation and exaggerated hand-movements while using dumbed-down English…I'll be kicked out of Laurier (or maybe fit right in?? jks Laurier, all love). That said, blogging and the journal has maintained my capability to form some-what intellectual sentences (although this probably doesn't qualify as "intellectual," but at least we can consider it higher level conversation? :)). Most of the staff at the schools know very little English, though at least two of the teachers and one of the headmistresses knew the language a bit more – so when around them, thankfully my foreign bubble expanded for short periods of time.

Have I mentioned this before? Maybe I have or maybe I haven't - but Chinese children are just about the cutest kids on earth. I think I remember saying this...but honestly, when they babble on while staring with those big black eyes (not all of them are little slits, Meagan, stop being so racist) - you can't help but fall in love with them. And they love my blue eyes and curly hair - so of course being a girl I fall to mush when their little fingers point at my features while playing and say "beautiful! Beautiful!" …And I have no hesitation about returning the compliment; they are beautiful children and so funny and warm and bright.

That said, they are learning the intensity of their culture. Miss. Poon, the English speaking teacher from the first school explained that the children begin practicing their interviewing skills during the second level of kindergarten (about 4 years old), and learn all throughout school, because they are required to interview for acceptance into their school of choice (often even meeting one-on-one without a parent!), and with the goal of preparing them for the crazy workforce they've got going on here in Hong Kong. This city is efficient for a reason; they are conditioned for it (I made a solid decision to incorporate more silly songs into my teaching…let them play and be crazy now because not all schools tolerate play (happiness?)).

Next week, the school I am at now wants me to give a presentation to the kids and parents for a special food event; “Western Lunch” starring yours truly (Baha!!)...and I have to put together a fifteen-minute power point presentation on Western-style eating and manners (pff, manners - Ezra house, what are manners??), and I have to dress-up and look pretty (apparently I don't look pretty right now lol); a ball-gown was mentioned jokingly but I told them I unfortunately didn't pack one in my back-pack! The “Western-style” food they planned is, now this is good, get this; plain macaroni (no cheese), bread (I reminded them they need butter for this), mango pudding for dessert, and pomegranate juice. They already bought the food, and are kinda not too well-off…SO I’m not going to let them know any better Western suggestions and just act like that’s the sort of meal we have ALL the time.

Today I also had the honour of being the subject of a race lesson. The kids thought I dyed my hair and are constantly fascinated by my eyes. The teachers were explaining how I was born this way – different from them; I found myself in the situation where I was standing in a room with many little pairs of eyes on me, pointing, laughing (in good fun?) and staring: I was the alien. Once again – I found myself running to Starbucks after work today for a little Western therapy.

The beaming little ones have been kind of a blessing over the last couple of weeks. It’s amazing how much they will make you smile even on the crappiest days – and how they feed off your energy during the better times. Aren’t kids awesome for that? (Especially cute little finger-peace-sign, beaming smiling Asian ones). Although I no longer want to teach – I can see the appeal…and I have needed their encouragement since I’ve been here. We had a great little relationship going on, and they will be missed!!

One girl from my first school saw me on the street while I was waiting at a bus stop, and she came up to me and said “Miss. Gray!!” and then pulled at her dress with both hands to show me, and said “Beautiful!!” and smiled this huge, scrunched-up smile. It made my life.

K soo, this is the Salvation Army's band Master, Jacob, his wife Kersa, and daughter, Priscilla. They invited me over to dinner to play and talk with their daughter who does NOT stop talking - but I liked that...keeps it interesting... and I learned that most families, have a "helper," or "nanny," or "maid" ...and most of them are Philipino..I had no idea!! Their's took the I guess it's good to have one around?? :s

This isn't related to Teaching...although I did take the picture on my way to the school this morning when I got McDonald's coffee....This is a Taro Pie..I've yet to try it...but I'm definitely intrigued

Okay so Kindergarten Graduation here is a bigger deal than Turner's (...not saying much, is it?)
But seriously...7 schools of Kindergarten practice 5 times before their graduation all together in this HUGE concert hall...they each have 2 routine dances, 3 large group numbers, and the walking across the stage in little gowns and caps...this was just the rehursal...but it's still very intense. I barely remember kindgerarten...

This was one of those "yay" moments - because he's three years old and understood that there were "three mice." It was a big deal.

Miss. Poon, who 'chose' to speak her English in a British accent though she's never left HK or China...she says most of her teachers were American but her and her friends didn't like that accent so they chose the British accents like "in the cinema" - lol.


This class is graduating this year to grade one, woo! Their graduation dance was HILARIOUS...but I didn't tell them that...they basically run around in various lines, trying to keep their knees high...and their arms waving up in the air the whole time. The school I am at now has a grad dance too - to High School Musical "We're All in this Together" ...pretty awesome.

Left to right: Chichi (gave me soooo much advice for stuff in HK), Headmistress Chan (kept me very well fed), and... I don't know the third teacher's name :s...but she seemed nice? Haha, she was just in the office when the picture was being taken.

kids draw the darndest things...

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