Sunday, October 7, 2007

Questions I've only been asked once but still feel like answering

1 Is teaching English hard? How does it work?

It turns out that I'm nobody's sole english teacher. In high school this makes total sense. Without mastery of Mandarin I couldn't really increase their english level, as I can't explain complex grammatical constructions. So for my 11th graders my class is a sort of coaching session. I show them something, like how presidents are elected, we talk about it, I try to get them to talk and participate, and they generally practice listening to and understanding a native speaker. I'd love it if everyone in the class got a chance to talk, but there's 50 kids in a class (video of that later)

For my primary school kids, 2nd and 3rd graders, I have a Chinese teacher throughout the class. She (for whatever reason all the Chinese teachers are women) speaks quite good english and can understand what I'm saying, and she translates some of my classroom instructions. She's also the class's regular English teacher, so she keeps the class roster and records homework as well.

The answer to your binary question is no. I have to prepare a Powerpoint presentation every week for my 11th graders, which takes some time, and it's very tiring teaching primary school kids, but basically I'm making a good salary for working 4-5 hours a day. In the elementary school I'm teaching one sentence a week (e.g. "What's for lunch?" "An apple.") and a little vocabulary. In high school I'm just talking slowly and clearly about some topic I pick.

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