First Day of School

Xi'an Travel Blog

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Hi everyone,

Yesterday we did more site-seeing, and I'm sure I'll post the pictures eventually. (Each one takes about 5 minutes to load.) I also went to my first supermarket, which was a lot of fun. I didn't find most of the (western) items that I was looking for, but it was nice to see if I could guess what some of the other packages were.

Today was my first day at the Primary school. I didn't teach today, I just watched the classes. They were first graders and were VERY enthusiastic. We were told that the kids really needed interaction with native English speakers. But in fact, the teacher's pronunciation was really good. So I felt a little strange about being brought in to help. I'm not sure what I can offer that she cannot. Maybe I'll be able to help more at the higher grade levels.

One of the biggest differences that I noticed between Chinese and American schools is sound volume. Or maybe I just don't remember my own school days that well. But there was a lot of repetition and every single student shouted every answer. It wasn't like they were out of control, they were just very enthusiastic, and the teacher was encouraging them all to answer. I just hope I never have a headache when I go there to teach :) She used a lot of games, so I guess I don't need to worry about using them as well. Another difference is that the students seemed to have more self-discipline than some American students. We got to see their morning exercises, and I think that may have a really good impact on those skills. They have to line up and pay attention to the teachers who lead them in the exercises.

That seems to be the same idea behind the classroom structure with the repetition. I saw very few students who weren't participating during these activities.

So tomorrow I actually have to start teaching. Our classloads are far lighter than we expected. I'll be taking two classes per day, and that is it. But I'll be using a lot of that down time to work on the lesson plans. I'll be teaching the first, third, and sixth grade students, so I can't use the same lessons for each class. I think that the sixth grade classes will be the most useful for developing an understanding of the teacher-student relationship.

On the plus side, the school is a half hour walk each way, so hopefully I will work off all of this food I am eating. (Gaoling, the chef made us some pork dumplings last night. While they were very good, your dumplings are still superior!)

Well, I'm off to plan a class on "Old McDonald Had a Farm" in order to teach the names of animals.

I heard about the snow storm, and I hope Indy didn't get hit too badly.


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