Weird Inspirational posters in the corridors - they must make more sense in Chinese
The kids in class got restless really easily. I have two theories about this:
1) The rooms were so hot, and after lunch time they got smelly from the nearby toilets
2) Their parents were forcing them into school in their summer holidays to learn English!
Some were in the latter group, pretty much all in the former. So I did my best to get them out into the playground a couple of times a week to play a game called Ladders which I learnt at Girl Guides. Everyone pairs off, and each pair is assigned a number and they sit facing each other, legs stretched straight out and the soles of their shoes are touching. I shout a number and the pair with that number jump up, run down towards the end of the group, hopping over each pair of legs as the go (like climbing a ladder see.
.! Ain't I clever ;0) ) split away from each other at the bottom and run round the backs of the other kids, and when they get to the top hop back to their place over the other legs - first one back in their space wins. I also did it by calling two or three sets of numbers which was amusing - mainly for me to watch the people pile-up! I also played Duck Duck Goose, which is entirely un-educational, but it got them out into the fresh air for a while. One person is it, while the others all sit in a large circle. The kid who's It walks round the back of the circle (behind everyone who is facing into the circle) and touches each person he passes on the head and says Duck. Eventually they'll just pick someone and shout Goose. The Goose has to chase the Duck around the outside of the circle and if the Goose caught the Duck, Goose became it. It was quite good because it got the boys and girls playing together - usually they kept very separate!
Class 11 - that's Barbie front row, far right
We also showed the kids Shrek in English - a bit stupid as that's not how they'll learn!
I tried to do as little book wok with my classes as possible.
Mine were Class 11 and 12, Year 2, so they weren't beginners but not experts either. One class contained Barbie (her chosen English name!) and she was a real help. She already spoke pretty good English and helped me translate when I was stuck. All the kids I taught picked English names, but some already had their own. I had a Figo, Beckham, Michael, Owen and Ronaldo - all after footballer! I also had one boy who asked me to pick my favourite of his names -Tree or Island! He became Sam. I also had an Angel which was her own choosing! Lots of them I picked for them, which they seemed happy with. One boy's Western name he'd picked was Jesse - he was mortified when I told him my Mum's name is Jessie, although obviously not spelt the same! He got teased for a few days - oops...
Me with Class 12 - Joy is front row, second from left - see what I mean about her legs! Bandy or what!
I used things like my passport and pictures of my family for lesson aides - the children liked asking me about things I'd done.
Only one child across both classes had a passport, most said they couldn't imagine going out of China, so I asked them to think about where they'd most like to visit and why. One said Paris, France, so I asked him Parlez vous Francais? Comment t'appelle tu? And they all looked at me as if I had two heads! Another wanted to go to Germany to watch football, so I asked Sprechen ze Deutsch? Wie Hiest du? Again, that two headed look! I also showed them money from home and Dubai, and they were very interested in why I wasn't yet married! A number of girls said I could marry their older brother and stay in Jimo.
The view from my podium desk
Class 11 play ladders
The children also taught me - I got them into groups of five or six and they made up short plays about Mid-Autumn Festival to explain it to me and another day they did plays on their favourite traditional Chinese stories - it gave me an easy time anyway! Another day we all went out for an ice cream which was nice.
We also had the Inter-Class Olympics! Star of my pupils was Figo who was indeed a very good footballer, and managed 67 keepy-uppies! Phil from New Zealand introduced the Chinese to the sport of Welly Whanging (flinging a gum boot as far as you can!) and we also had a quiz for the non-sporty element, i.e. the girls. In saying that I had the school's champion sprinter in one of my classes, called Joy - her legs were totally shaped like a soccer player, all bent out the wrong ways, but she could run and was also a very friendly helpful pupil.
Class 12 play Duck Duck Goose
One of the other things we did was called Blind Date. Farhad, a guy from London who taught in the class next door, brought his kids into my class, and we pushed all the desks up to the wall and formed an audience. Blind Date was a TV show in the UK, where the question asker (either 1 guy or 1 girl) and the three possible dates sit on the other side of a screen, they get asked three questions and the contestant picks the one he thinks will be the best boyfriend/ girlfriend from the answers. We did it by putting up a screen of coats around a desk, and had the kids ask questions in English to guess who was on the other side. It was mostly things like do you like sport, are you good at English, and are you pretty / handsome (Farhad and I made them ask that...always prompted a ripple of giggles from the audience)! And the contestants were good at it!
So in between all that, we did some lessons, mostly on whatever they wanted to know or learn about.
Reading was the most difficult subject for them because the alphabet system is totally different and they can't really even guess at words if they're not sure. At least for writing they can learn sentences off by heart! It was also weird teaching the same lesson twice - usually to one class in the afternoon and the other the next morning.
Class 11 Kids performing their Chinese story play
It was fun, although I don't know if I'll ever be a teacher if journalism doesn't work out!