Friday, September 17, 2010

Blog Saturday am 9/18

(Pictured above left to right: Joan, Domenico and Angela---- Sherry and Lisa ---- Gorge and Domenico -----Apple, Vivian (17 y/o) and Sherry from CSP 2----and Tony)

Sometimes Joan and I forget that we came over to China to teach as well as site see and eat Chinese food! Here comes a quick run down on how our school is structured.

We have 5 groups of students. The most basic are in a class called QP1. From there they move on next semester to QP2, then CSP1, CSP2 ( Joan's group), and finally GES. GES is a year long grouping. I am right where I belong with the basic QP1 !

Students spend 2 hours each morning in a class called Interchanges. It covers a variety of communication areas. They listen, read, read out loud, spell, write, grammaticize ( I'm trying to be parallel), and count. During the rest of the day they attend specific courses such as pronunciation, listening, reading, oral English, academic writing, business English, cultures, history, geography, and grammar. Cultures, history, and geography are taught primarily as a means of providing communications topics. They don't memorize the names of the 50 states and their capitals, they talk about them!

I have 12 bright young scholars in my QP1 class. It is interesting that some attend a private, expensive, language school because they cannot gain admittance to a public high school or have failed to get into a college. The parent faced sending the child to trade school or coming up with a better alternative. To save face ( VERY important here!) the parents send their child to us in order to be able to say, "My child is in college learning English". A clue to the individual student's mental acumen is his age. If he/she is 16 or 17, there is a very good chance that he flunked out after grade 9 and could not get into a high school!

Enough said. Now my class.

James- age 17, wants to be an international playboy, could be a good student but would prefers to be the class clown
Andrea- age 38, mother of a 12 year old, a good student, wants to learn English so that she can assist her daughter in learning, very bright
Keenly-age 32, married, a college grad who wants to start an email business, a good student
Wicky (We are working on Vicky)- age 21, good student, always prepared, wants to enter the business world
Wendy- age 23, tired of working as a sales clerk, wants to become an international business women, will probably return to being a sales clerk with a smattering of broken English
Sara- age 21, the class shy one, spends most of her day blushing and hiding her face, has already grown tired of me saying "louder, please"
Tim- age 17, nuf' said, has the hots for Carol
Catherine- age 20, our strongest beginner, reads like a champ, dresses like million bucks, wants to enter business and will probably succeed
Ellen- age 21, didn't like college, wants to be a well-rounded individual and travel, my hardest worker
Roy- age 17, a cute kid, tries hard with a smile on his face, unfortunately, my second slowest student
Tom- age 17, a box of rocks can outwit him, those Chinese finger traps could keep him puzzled for half a day ( more detail to follow)
Carol-age 18, our cell phone queen, cute as a button, looking for a husband, would be a blonde in the States
Ta-da! My class!

Now about Tom. Tom is Korean and evidently could not get into a high school in Korea. When he couldn't follow the simplest instruction ( open your book) in English we were all puzzled. We brought in one of our Chinese staff members to speak to him. He still couldn't understand but at least we found out he was Korean. We brought in one of our advanced students, who is Korean, to translate. He had a difficult time following instructions in his native language. After some investigation, we found out he was enrolled by his Uncle ( Chinese) because his parents were too disgraced to have him in a trade school in Korea. His parents are paying a fortune to house, transport, and educate the boy at our university. The fact that he doesn't speak Chinese is not a problem. We have Korean, Brazilian, and Vietnamese students. They aren't allowed to speak their native language anyway. The problem is an incredibly low IQ. Having watched Clint Eastwood's movie, "Heartbreak Ridge", I know to "adapt and improvise." I ask the simplest of questions, try to be positive, and try to keep the other students from laughing and poking fun. Tom doesn't help. Since the only contact he gets is laughter, he, like all of us, finds pleasure in contact, and enjoys the laughter.

Anyone having extra peroxide, please send it to Carol. Anyone wanting to establish a future business contact in China, let me know. I will get you Andrea's or Catherine's email address.( I'm serious. There is potential here.)

And now, Joan's students.

My homeroom class (2nd semester intermediate level) is delightful. I think I have the best of the school! Below is a brief description of each. Hopefully we have pictures to accompany these write ups!
1. Tony is in his early 20s and plans on starting his own business. I have no doubt he will be successful. He is very articulate and enterprising. Andy borrows him when he needs to tell his students something they wouldn't understand in English (most of what he has to tell--not teach--them!). He is well liked by all ages and is very personable and outgoing. He also studies diligently but unlike America, his peers appreciate that quality rather than ridicule it. He also has expensive tastes (the other students describe him as: luxury liking). He's a joy to work with.
2. Cindy is rarely present. She is the weakest student (and not just because she isn't there); she loves to draw but has little interest in learning English.
3. Susan is in her early 20's, too. She has an excellent grasp of English and speaks well. Unfortunately she, too, is missing classes these days--she is taking drivers education. [Must be a wealthy family if they can afford both.]
4. Apple is a lovely young woman in her mid-20s who is struggling to get the pronunciations correct. [Some of our sounds are soooo very different from the Chinese. Vs are particularly troublesome and the 'cur' trips them up,too.] For 5 years she worked at an engineering firm but she wants a better job (maybe back in the same industry). We haven't figured out exactly what she was doing at the firm; when we do, I'll share!
5. Vivian is a 17 year old, fresh out of high school. She is my youngest in this class and easily embarrassed. Red framed glasses almost bigger than her small face, she is also the smallest student in the class. She is very bright and eager; she wants to be a psychologist (didn't know China knew what one was!). Like most Chinese, she studied English in school. She has the advantage over her classmates in that she just finished her studies and evidently had some good teachers. Her grammar is better than most, she hasn't had time to forget what she learned, and she has practiced her English recently.
6. Sherry--I'm bring her home! She is a beautiful 28 year old who is as lovely on the inside as on the out. She has a wonderful sense of humor--which I can't wait for her to be able to express in English. She doesn't even realize out funny she can be. She laughs at herself and makes everyone around her smile. She is a real delight in class. She also wants to learn and works hard to master the skills. We are having fun day Monday (3 legged races, water balloon tosses, etc) and she is our cheerleader (each class has to have a cheer). If you know any single young men looking for a delightful wife, I recommend her!
{We won't win the contest; Andy is teaching his class "We will, we will 'beat' you" complete with clapping and foot stomping!--we may not understand the words, but no one will miss the intent!}
7. Lisa--35 and owns her own business. She imports/makes yarns and weaves sweaters. I am not sure how many employees she has but she does have an assistant (who speaks English). Since I haven't seen her in the same outfit since school started (and all are bright, colorful and well designed), she isn't doing too badly. She is taking at least 1/2 of every day to attend classes but paying the entire tuition. She also has her own car (a big deal here--BMWs, Chevys, Fords, Audis, Mercedes, etc compete with the inexpensive Korean and Chinese made vehicles). So far I have seen her in 6 different pairs of glasses--a girl has to have her accessories match! She is impatient to learn and thinks she should know it already!
8. Alex--Alex(22-23) is very deceptive. When I first met him I wasn't sure he belonged in the class. As time passes and he opens up more, he is quite articulate and sounds words out well. We are working on his writing--Andy helps a lot on that skill. He is very dogged in his approach unless he gets distracted by Gorge (no, I didn't misspell that!). Alex has lots to offer; he just needs more confidence.
9. Gorge--19 and probably not a high school graduate. Gorge's father is a successful supplier of fish (not sure if he exports or not but he does fillet and flash freeze them so suspect they are leaving China). Gorge wants to be a businessman and I'm sure that is why his father wants him to learn English. Gorge isn't dumb--just lazy. Once we figure out what his carrot is, he'll do fine. In the interim, we have to keep him focused on not slipping into Chinese, sleeping or cracking jokes.
10. Demonico--yep, you read that correctly. Domenico spent about a month in Italy and loves pasta--hence his name. He is very well liked and our class monitor. Per his request, he will only be the monitor for September and then we'll change. Monitors have a tough job. Every morning our rooms get cleaned--yep, dusted, mopped, desks and chairs wiped down with a damp rag and the board thoroughly cleaned (the board also gets erased between classes). It is the monitors job to see that the chores get done. A schedule is made and everyone pitches in (I saw Gorge mopping yesterday!). The monitor also gets the job of making any announcements that the school wants made (in Chinese is necessary since not all students understand all the words in English). Monitors also get stuck with any other jobs the office wants done! Domenico is hard working; he is going with us today on our shopping excursion (more below).
11. Angela--another one I'll bring home--or sponsor to come to America. Angela is a 40 year old (looks 30 at MOST) mother of a 12 year old girl (born in LA) and 2 year old boy. Her husband is a furniture carver. She has someone to look after her daughter and a 'baby caretaker' to care for the son. She has traveled more than most of her classmates but doesn't flaunt her experiences. She very much wants to immigrate so her children can get an American education. I would suspect her husband could make much more money in the US, too. Anyone know if Karges is still around in Evansville?!?! Angela has some bad habits with her English and breaking them is tougher--as we get older, you know . . . At 10am Angela is picking up Andy, Domenico and me at the school to take us downtown to a large market. There she has 3 seamstresses she uses for her clothes (she is low key but stylish) so most of her things are custom made. (The dress she had on yesterday was adorable and she told me her sister wants to become a seamstress and had made it for her!) The market is also home to many shops of various commodities--like bootleg Western movies!! (Guess where Andy and Domenico are headed first!)
So those are my students. It is a delightful and entertaining group.
Hopefully we'll have some great of Fun Day for our next blog. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we will spend in Dalian (a new city across the bay). WECL has another school there and one of the teachers is from FGCU. Another of the teachers was supposed to be here this semester so we got to meet him before he got transferred (Cliff is a real sweetie); the head over there, Sharon, is from Canada and we spoke with her before committing to come. Sharon is about 70 and has been in China about 10 years off and on. She tells it exactly like it is--love it; her language is colorful and she looks deceptively mild and sweet!
More later. Cheers from China.

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