The past couple of weeks have been a mixed bag in regards to teaching. Some groups have been a pleasure; I particularly enjoy teaching Grade 3. The middle school classes, Grade 6 and 7, are heavily dependent on the group. Sometimes the lessons I’ve planned go exactly as I envision. Other times I am met with blank stares, and a few groups are borderline chaos.
I’ve took it upon myself to speak to a few of the other teachers at the school. They agree that the students in my school in particular can be challenging, and this isn’t made any easier by the language barrier when attempting to convey instructions or warnings. Regardless, I still have vast amounts of room for improvement in terms of lesson planning and classroom management.
I asked a couple of Chinese teachers at the school if I could observe their English lessons, something I’d highly recommend doing. I scrutinised the lesson and took notes, both positive and negative, as to how I thought those lessons are going and why. While I feel English lessons from a native speaker should be more active and fun, seeing the native teachers’ classroom personas and their ability to command respect was a real eye-opener for me.
Aside from the teaching, I’ve mostly been plodding about Jinshan District and exploring what’s around my apartment. Now that I’m a bit more settled, I plan to ask my coordinator to help me pick a nearby gym and hopefully find some local Mandarin lessons. It’s my girlfriend’s birthday tomorrow, so after my lessons I’ll be heading there in the evening via bullet train. Last weekend we tried the Chinese interpretation of Spanish food (weird faux stained glass decor pictured), nice enough but offbeat from any place that I’ve tried in Europe, I guess not dissimilar to how we’ve mutated Eastern food.
I also finally went got to see Black Panther, which only opened here a few days ago. After the Chinese New Year there tends to be a ‘blackout period’ whereby local films are prioritised in terms of distribution. There were fears that a black-themed film wouldn’t perform that well in China. I think that was a crude exaggeration of how the Chinese view other ethnicities, it’s just another Marvel film to them, and the cinema was packed. Superhero films are as mainstream here as they are back home, and comic books are a frequent talking point between many of the students and I. It’s one of the few forms of Western media that most students seem familiar with, and one place that I’ve managed to find some common ground, thankfully!